Louisiana abortion ban: Lawmakers pass "fetal heartbeat" abortion ban today

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The law does not include exemptions for a pregnancy due to rape or incest.

Louisiana lawmakers on Wednesday passed a strict new abortion ban that would prohibit the procedure before some women even know they are pregnant, joining a half-dozen conservative states with similar measures.

The bill (pdf) says the prohibition will go into effect if a similar law in MS is upheld by a federal appeals court.

These assaults on the right of women to obtain and have access to abortion services are anti-democratic and reactionary.

A lawsuit against the state was filed earlier this week by Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, which has provided abortions for more than two decades and is the last remaining clinic to do so in Missouri. "When I ran for governor, I said that I was pro-life". On May 24, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the MS law from taking effect in July.

"By passing this extreme abortion ban today, anti-women's health politicians in Louisiana voted to join their counterparts in places like Alabama, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Georgia to devastate the health and well-being of women and families", Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement Wednesday. The bill would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion and subject doctors who perform abortions after a heartbeat is detected with a $1,000 fine or up to two years in prison.

The legislation includes an exception from the abortion ban to prevent the pregnant woman's death or "a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" or if the pregnancy is deemed "medically futile". In the very early stages of pregnancy the heartbeat can not be detected with a traditional abdominal ultrasound.

The bill would make it unlawful to "knowingly perform an abortion with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being when a fetal heartbeat has been detected".

Anti-abortion activists say they aim to prompt the newly installed conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade by enacting laws that are virtually assured of facing court challenges.

If the judge had ruled against Planned Parenthood, the clinic's license would have expired at midnight, making Missouri the only US state without an abortion clinic since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.

Abortion-rights supporters take part in a protest in St. Louis.

In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice America political director Nicole Brener-Schmitz warned Louisiana's governor that he "won't get a pass just because he is a Democrat".

All of these laws are unconstitutional, not only because they criminalize abortion and contradict Roe v. Wade, but because they elevate religious doctrine to state policy in violation of the First Amendment's ban on the establishment of religion.

The bill was introduced by Republican state Rep. Valarie Hodges, who called it "a very solemn responsibility". "My first act as governor was to expand access to health care for working Louisianans".

Democrats blasted the pro-life governor on social media for supporting Louisiana's heartbeat bill. "Apologies to LA women, particularly for the disrespect to women victimized by rape or incest".

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