Group of state legislators pen letter to Governor asking him to veto abortion bill
Senate Bill 342, if it becomes law, would ban abortions in Louisiana without exceptions for rape or incest.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A group of lawmakers penned a letter to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Wednesday, asking him to veto a bill they claim would carry some of the most “draconian criminal penalties in the country” for abortion providers.
Approved by the legislature, Senate Bill 342 bans the termination of most pregnancies in Louisiana and lays out criminal penalties for doctors found guilty of performing abortions. Doctors who are found guilty could face a prison term of not less than one year to not more than ten years and would be fined not less than $10,000 but not more than $100,000.
The 16 state representatives who wrote the letter said that “the lack of reasonable exceptions is unconscionable,” and called for Governor Edwards to veto the legislation.
Louisiana already has a trigger law outlawing most abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade, and supporters of SB342 claim the legislation is simply clarifying the law.
“This bill reaffirms that policy and clarifies and makes things consistent between Louisiana’s civil and criminal code, that unborn children should be protected when Roe v. Wade is overturned,” said Ben Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life.
But opponents of the legislation, including Democratic State Rep. Delisha Boyd of New Orleans, said the bill will force young girls to carry to term a pregnancy, even in the case of rape or incest. Boyd said it would disproportionately impact already marginalized minority communities, including those in her district.
“You want that child, after the trauma of being raped, the mental, spiritual and emotional trauma from that incident, to then have to deal with the trauma of carrying a child,” Boyd said.
“The increase in [youth crime], 14, 15 and 16 year-olds, we’re living witnesses right now to children who have experienced some type of trauma,” she added. “They don’t come here like that, they’re born into that.”
The bill was sponsored by Democratic State Senator Katrina Jackson of Monroe.
Governor Edwards has not said whether he plans to veto the bill, but did speak on it during a press conference on Monday.
“I’ve got a long history as a legislator, as governor of being pro life myself. However, I believe that the force of law should not compel a lady or a girl to carry a rapist’s baby to term,” Edwards said. “This bill doesn’t change anything in the trigger law. We’ve had about five decades of bill enactments since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. I believe Senator Jackson’s bill was an effort to reconcile all of those various enactments so that you had more consistency and less of a problem in terms of different definitions, different penalties.”
Clapper said there are public and private resources in place to support pregnant women in Louisiana.
“Louisiana is ready to help support mothers who are facing crisis pregnancies. We know as a pro-life state that we are not just pro-life for babies, but we’re pro-life for mothers,” he said.
But Boyd, along with the 15 other state representatives who penned the letter, said the legislation will force physicians to face “the impossible choice between withholding necessary medical care, or being thrown in jail for 10 years or more because their patient wasn’t deemed close enough to dying.”
- State lawmakers debate amendments to pending abortion law
- Gov. Edwards, a pro-life Democrat, comes out against abortion bill that would charge mothers with murder
- Louisiana Right to Life opposes bill classifying abortion as homicide
- La. abortion law would trigger if Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade
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