Louisiana lawmakers back away from classifying abortion as homicide

Louisiana lawmakers back away from classifying abortion as homicide

House Bill 813, introduced by Republican Rep. Danny McCormick, would have redefined a person to include an unborn child from the “moment of conception.” The proposal was widely condemned, including by anti-abortion groups in the state like Louisiana Right to Life, because it is their “long-standing policy that women at risk of abortion should not be treated as criminals.”
An amendment introduced Thursday by Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh deleted the wording from McCormick’s bill and replaced it with similar wording to another bill, Senate Bill 342, passed by the Senate last week.

The amendment passed the state house by a vote of 65 to 26, effectively rendering the House bill dead, Seabaugh said. The Senate version will be heard by a House committee next week, he added.

The amended bill would not ban contraception, criminalize any aspect of in vitro fertilization, or criminalize pregnant women.

On the House floor, Seabaugh had argued that the bill as originally introduced had a “number of problems” and noted the Supreme Court’s draft advisory opinion reported last week by Politico, which included Roe v . Wade would fall.

“We stand on the precipice of the most significant pro-life victory in this country in 50 years. We should celebrate together and embrace each other as brothers in Christ,” he said. “We shouldn’t be at each other’s throats over a bill that is blatantly unconstitutional, criminalizes women, wouldn’t prevent a single abortion and, as far as I can tell, was only introduced to give a few misguided people a platform.”

When the bill passed the committee by a 7-2 vote last week, there was opposition from state anti-abortion groups, including Louisiana Right to Life, who said the legislation was “inconsistent with their mission to protect mothers and babies.” And on Thursday, leading national anti-abortion groups penned an open letter urging states to reject laws that would criminalize women for having an abortion.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a rare anti-abortion opponent, also spoke out against the law this week, calling it “radical.”

“In addition to the fact that this legislation is patently unconstitutional, this bill would criminalize the use of certain types of birth control, parts of the in vitro fertilization process, and could even serve as a bar to life-saving medical treatment for a woman suffering a miscarriage.” , Edwards said in a statement, “To suggest that a woman is going to jail for having an abortion is just plain absurd.”

After Thursday’s vote, Louisiana Right to Life said it does not expect lawmakers to consider HB 813 further in this session.

“Now that HB 813 is behind us, we look forward to getting back to our work, the fall of Roe v. Wade and to secure additional resources for alternatives to abortion in Louisiana,” said Benjamin Clapper, the group’s chief executive, in a press release.
Louisiana is one of several states that have a so-called trigger bar that would prohibit a healthcare provider from performing an abortion procedure or providing medication intended to induce an abortion if Roe v. Wade is lifted.

CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.

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