La. lawmakers debate for hours before passing controversial abortion bill

La. lawmakers debate for hours before passing controversial abortion bill

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Hours’ worth of debate pitted pro-life legislators against pro-choice legislators ahead of their passage of a controversial bill to ban most abortions in the state Wednesday (May 29).

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs carried Senate Bill 184 in the House, which was written by Sen. John Milkovich, a Democrat from Shreveport.

“I just want to say I’m proud to stand with this legislation and the state of Louisiana. We’re very pro-life,” Hodges said.

Although the bill passed with an overwhelming majority, 23 representatives voted against the bill. Rep. C. Denise Marcelle, D-East Baton Rouge spoke out against the measure.

“I rise in opposition of this bill, in telling women what you can and cannot do with your body,” Marcelle said.

The strict new abortion ban makes it so women cannot seek an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be found as early as the 6th week of pregnancy.

While it allows exceptions for pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life, it does not provide for exceptions for rape or incest as legislators struck down several amendments to that point.

Rep. Edward C. “Ted” James was among those in favor of an amendment to allow for exceptions.

“I am not man enough to tell a woman who’s had her insides ripped apart and been raped I’m not man enough to tell that woman you know what live with it,” James said.

On the flip side, Rep. Alan Seabaugh argued it is not the fetus’ who should be harmed because of a rapists’ actions.

"We don’t punish children in this country for the sins of their fathers. The manner in which a child is conceived is not an indictment of that child that should warrant a death sentence for that child,” Seabaugh said.

Wednesday’s vote on the House floor drew national attention. Fox 8 legal analyst Mike Sherman said the bill is part of a bigger movement to challenge Roe v. Wade, a 1970s decision from the Supreme Court protecting a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

“We’ve seen conservative legislations passing bills to challenge Roe v. Wade. So far, everything’s been struck down. Louisiana has now followed suit with the bill that, unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, is also likely to be struck down,” Sherman said.

Louisiana’s bill is tied to similar legislation out of Mississippi, which means it will only take effect if Mississippi’s law is upheld by a federal appeals court. However, a federal judge has temporarily blocked that law.

“Now we turn our attention to the courts to see if they’ll strike it down as unconstitutional,” Sherman said.

After a quick vote, the house passed the bill 79 to 23. It now heads to the Governor’s desk, who released a statement after the vote, saying he is prepared to sign it into law.

Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted similar laws.

Alabama's new law outlaws virtually all abortions.

None of the laws banning abortion have taken effect.

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