Louisiana lawmakers pass fetal heartbeat abortion ban

Louisiana lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, joining a string of other US states restricting the termination of pregnancies as early as six weeks.

The bans are expected to be blocked in lower courts, but supporters plan to appeal such decisions until they reach the Supreme Court.

They hope this will lead to the long-sought conservative goal of overturning the landmark 1973 ruling known as Roe v Wade, which recognised women’s right to abortion.

The measure — which includes exceptions for cases in which a woman’s life is at risk or the fetus has a fatal condition — passed the Louisiana House of Representatives with a vote of 79-23 after being approved in the Senate by 31-5, according to the legislature’s website.

It now goes to the desk of the governor, who said he plans to endorse it.


“As I prepare to sign this bill, I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone,” Governor John Edwards said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Planned Parenthood, which offers abortion services, said Louisiana “is part of an alarming and widely-opposed national trend of bans criminalising abortion before many women even know they’re pregnant, threatening women with investigation, and promising to throw doctors in prison for doing their jobs.”

“Banning abortion will not stop abortion — but it will end access to safe, legal abortion care,” Leana Wen, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

‘Lives at risk’

“These politicians in 2019 are deliberately putting women’s lives at risk. This is not about medicine or science, but power over women’s bodies,” she said.

Several other conservative southern US states have passed similar measures in recent weeks, including Alabama, whose anti-abortion law is the strictest in the country. It amounts to a near-total ban on ending a pregnancy, even in cases of rape and incest.

READ MORE: Alabama senate passes toughest abortion ban bill in US

Performing an abortion would be a crime that could land doctors in prison for 10 to 99 years.

Like the Louisiana measure, the Alabama bill includes exceptions if the life of the mother is in danger or the fetus has a fatal condition.

The new abortion restrictions sparked widespread protests by activists last week, with demonstrators turning out in cities including Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, Georgia.

Conservatives are ultimately counting on support at the highest court in the land.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has appointed two conservative justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — leaving liberal members of the court outnumbered five to four.

Conservative-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts is seen as the potential swing vote if the constitutionality of abortion eventually comes before the court.

Around two thirds of Americans say abortion should be legal, a Pew Center poll found last year.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

W.G. Dunlop
Wg Dunlop
Editor for @AFP in DC. Six years in Iraq, also reported from the Gulf, Levant & North Africa. Usual caveats.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

Covid-overflow hospital in ruins as SIU investigates

A high-level probe has begun into hundreds of millions of rand spent by the Gauteng health department to refurbish a hospital that is now seven months behind schedule – and lying empty

More top stories

Bitcoin rules take edge off crypto-nite

New regulations for cryptocurrency exchanges could boost investor confidence in such assets

An experiment in what school could be

Two Limpopo principals will be helping to create radically reimagined communities of learning: schools as living systems

Covid-19 on the rise in Zimbabwe

The South African variant of the virus is ‘clinically present’, while a lockdown tries to limit new infections

The inefficiency of the Gini coefficient

To simplify complex inequality into a single statistic doesn’t address how to accurately assess (or reduce) South Africa’s large wealth divide
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…