The White House has condemned “radical” and “extreme” legislation in Louisiana that would impose prison sentences and heavy fines against abortion providers and shutter the state’s three remaining clinics if the US Supreme Court overturns the Roe v Wade decision as anticipated in the coming days.
Senate Bill 342, authored by anti-abortion Democratic state senator Katrina Jackson, clarifies the state’s dozens of restrictive abortion laws to effectively outlaw all abortion care beyond the moment of “fertilization and implantation.” It makes no exception for rape or incest.
Louisiana’s anti-abortion Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards – who said last week that he opposes legislation that does not make exceptions for rape or incest – is expected to sign it into law.
The bill passed the state’s Senate and House of Representatives on 5 June, just before the end of the state legislative session.
“The Louisiana legislature has taken the latest step in a growing attack on the fundamental freedoms of Americans,” White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said in a statement on 6 June.
President Joe Biden is “committed to protecting the constitutional rights of Americans afforded by Roe for nearly 50 years, and ensuring that women can make their own choices about their lives, bodies, and families,” she said.
“An overwhelming majority of the American people agree and reject these kinds of radical measures,” she added, referencing several recent polls finding a vast majority of Americans support protections for abortion access.
The latest Louisiana measure would impose a prison sentence of up to 10 years for abortion providers or anyone found guilty of performing an aobrtion, along with no less than $10,000 in fines. An abortion performed later in the pregnancy could result in a 15-year prison sentence as well as a minimum $20,000 fine, if found guilty.
Though the bill includes language that explicitly exempts abortion patients from prosecution, opponents have warned that the bill could endanger both abortion providers and patients under the state’s homicide statutes.
Senator Jackson’s bill also requires two physicians to diagnose that procedures that are also common for people who experienced miscarriages are medically necessary – despite the state’s limited availability of hospital obstetric services, OB-GYN doctors, birth centres and other maternal healthcare.
Such restrictions will likely make it difficult for many pregnant people seeking an abortion to find one, forcing them to carry medically dangerous pregnancies to term.
Louisiana already has some of the most restrictive laws governing abortion care – with some of the worst childhood poverty rates and poor rates of maternal health – in the US.
Without access to legal care in the state, abortion patients will have to travel farther than patients in any other state to access legal care, as far as Illinois, New Mexico or North Carolina.
If Roe v Wade is overturned, Louisiana and at least 12 other states with so-called “trigger” laws would make abortion care illegal as soon as Roe is overturned.
Louisiana patients already are required to undergo an ultrasound and state-directed counseling, then wait 24 hours before an appointment – which means patients must make at least two visits to clinics within the state. Patients already are facing longer wait times for a first appointment – up to four weeks in some cases – as patients from Texas seek care in neighbouring states following restrictive laws in that state.
Abortions in Louisiana also are not covered for patients with health insurance plans through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange.
Patients also cannot use telemedicine appointments to obtain prescriptions for medication abortion – overwhelmingly the most common form of abortion, requiring a two-pill combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, which are also common for treating miscarriages.
Louisiana legislators also approved a measure to ban such medication by mail. That bill would criminalise the delivery or distribution of such medication.
The legislation joins a wave of anti-abortion measures filed by Republican state legislators this year, emboldened by the forthcoming Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involving a contitutional challenge to a Mississippi law banning most abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy – several weeks below the “fetal viability” threshold of 24 to 24 weeks established by the 1973 decision in Roe.
A leaked draft opinion authored by conservative Justice Samuel Alito would overturn Roe and its affirming decision in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey.
Kaynak : https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/louisiana-abortion-biden-roe-v-wade-b2095138.html