This Week in Louisiana...

Most women in Louisiana will have to wait three days to get an abortion under House Bill 386 which made it over its final legislative hurdle on Wednesday when the Louisiana House, as expected, approved minor wording changes to the bill. The bill will now go to the Governor for his signature.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee moved forward a slew of bills that threaten to remove funding for family planning services and restrict the methods and circumstances of abortion.

The committee considered a proposal to prohibit health care providers, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving state funding even for family planning services. Louisiana ranks among the highest in the nation for rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, yet HB 606, by Representative Hoffman, would significantly reduce access to testing, treatment and birth control for individuals enrolled in Medicaid and Take Charge. This proposal would deny women access to affordable contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies.

A proposal by Representative Mike Johnson, HB 1081, would ban one of the most common second-trimester abortion procedures. When considered alongside HB 386 this is a dangerous proposal. Taken together, it isn’t hard to see the impact that these measures will have on women’s access. One bill imposes a state mandated three day delay, denying women access to care earlier and pushing more women to have second-trimester procedures; the other then bans that procedure. Furthermore the Supreme Court has upheld this method as constitutional.

Reproductive health advocates testified at the Committee hearing that these laws are dangerous for women and doctors. Watch the testimony here (beginning at 2:36:00).

HB 1019, by Representative Edmonds, was also scheduled, but was deferred to be heard at a later date. This bill would prohibit termination of a pregnancy even for severe or fatal genetic abnormalities. This measure places policymakers between doctors and their patients; preventing doctors from counseling patients based on medical evidence and what might be in the best interest of her health and safety.

HB 402 by Representative Pat Smith failed to get enough votes in the Senate Education Committee to move it forward. The would have allowed public high school students to take part in a national survey on sexual risks conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill also would have allowed parents to opt-out. Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, of Lafayette, who supported the bill said, “I don’t know why we are against it. This is entirely voluntary.”

SB 254 by Senator J.P. Morrell, which will ensure Equal Pay for Women, will be heard next Thursday, May 19th in the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

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