Two new bills targeting abortion have been signed by the Governor
Governor Edwards has signed two controversial abortion bills, HB 578 and HB 357, meaning both bills will become laws. We at Lift Louisiana are extremely disappointed in Governor Edwards’ action which will result in physicians being forced to deliver to their patients deceitful information and more young people struggling to access abortion through judicial bypass.
HB 578 (Act 483) is the so-called abortion pill reversal bill that forces physicians to give their patients misleading information about medication abortion that will confuse them and could put their health and safety at risk. There is no scientific or medical evidence that proves that reversing a medication abortion is possible or safe. In fact, when a random control study was attempted, it had to be stopped because 25 percent of the participants, pregnant people, began hemorrhaging and had to be taken into emergency care. The Louisiana Department of Health does not support this and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have opposed promoting medication abortion reversal. Requiring physicians to tell patients not to complete a medication abortion undermines the patient-provider relationship and misleads patients into believing they do not need to be certain about their decision before obtaining an abortion.
From the beginning, this bill was clearly aimed at shaming and confusing people, and this is a tactic we have seen too often fromthose opposing abortion care. Anti-abortion lobbyists and legislators claim to want to protect pregnant people, but this law is putting them at risk.
HB 357 (Act 482) makes drastic changes to the judicial bypass law for young people seeking abortion who cannot obtain parental consent. The current judicial bypass law allows minors to appeal to a court either in the parish where they lived or in a parish where an abortion clinic is located. The new law requires a minor only to go to a court in the parish where they live or a neighboring parish if their parish has a population of less than 10,000. There are also additional reporting requirements within the bill, which would make it easy for the public to identify the patient and the Judge who may be granting the bypass, putting their safety at risk.
Those who are applying for judicial bypass are a very small segment of pregnant minors in Louisiana. The overwhelming majority of pregnant young people do involve their parents, but others may need a judicial bypass because of rape, severe abuse, threats of violence, and other coercive behavior by parents. Many small-town courthouses are right in the center of town and the staff in the courthouse in a town where everyone knows everyone might recognize this young woman or her name. Young people from small or rural communities will face more risks to confidentiality.
This drastic change to the judicial bypass process resulted from an amendment to the bill late in the legislative process and the bill was forced through without proper vetting from the judiciary committees in the legislature. Even more alarming was the way State Senator Katrina Jackson spoke about the bill before the Senate, as she described it as having to do with protecting minors from human trafficking and abuse. This is a complete misrepresentation of the bill.
We at Lift are speaking up and making it clear that this bill will allow a parent or a small town, conservative judge to force a young person to carry their pregnancy to term and give birth against their will.
Both of these laws are scheduled to take effect August 1, 2021.