The last several years have brought a record-breaking number of abortion restrictions on the state level. Nonetheless, lawmakers show no signs of letting up, opting to continue enacting a complicated web of laws related to the medical procedure. This legislative session, Louisiana has exemplified that strategy, advancing several different attacks on reproductive rights at the same time. Here’s what the lawmakers in the Pelican State have been spending their time on:
1. Passing a bill to shut down abortion clinics and turn doctors into criminals.
On Wednesday, the Louisiana legislature gave final approval to House Bill 388, a piece of legislation that will require abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals. That unnecessary requirement, which is directly modeled on a new law in Texas that’s forcing dozens of clinics to close, is specifically intended to compromise women’s access to legal abortion services. In addition to shutting down at least three of the state’s five existing clinics, HB 388 threatens to turn private physicians into criminals by limiting the number of abortions they’re allowed to perform before needing to be officially classified as an “abortion provider” — a designation that isn’t exactly attractive to medical professionals, considering all of the other restrictions on providers included in the new legislation.
2. Trying to force comatose pregnant women to remain on life support against their families’ wishes.
Louisiana lawmakers are currently advancing House Bill 1274, a measure that would make it harder to take incapacitated pregnant women off of life support, even if that’s what their loved ones want to do. Critics have decried the legislation as essentially forcing women’s bodies to be used as incubators. The measure was spurred by a recent controversy in Texas in which a brain-dead pregnant woman’s family sued to take her off life support after a hospital there forced her to remain hooked up to machines against their wishes. The lawmaker who introduced the measure, Rep. Austin Badon (D), claims that it will protect the sanctity of life because “we have a responsibility to that unborn child, to give that unborn child a chance.”
3. Asking women to read a pamphlet about “abortion risks” written by abortion opponents.
Under House Bill 1262 — which has already passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate — a woman would be required to read a pamphlet containing biased information about the mental health risks of abortion before being allowed to continue with the procedure. Even though research has proven that abortion is not actually linked to mental health issues, Rep. Barry Ivey (R) claims that his bill is necessary in light of the “potential psychiatric issues” that can result from ending a pregnancy. HB 1262 stipulates that the pamphlet will be created by a 14-member task force that includes state lawmakers, psychologists, and “crisis pregnancy center” employees who counsel women against having abortions.
4. Defeating attempts to improve the state’s dismal sex ed laws.
Even though Louisiana’s lack of adequate sex ed requirements has been directly tied to endemic rates of HIV infection among African American youth, and one lawmaker referred to the failure to provide kids with accurate medical information as a “form of child abuse,” the legislature recently defeated two different measures that would have improved the state’s sexual health classes. Lawmakers killed an effort to mandate comprehensive sex ed in public schools — marking the third time in the past five years that particular measure has been voted down. They also defeated a bill that would have surveyed public school students about their sexual activity in an attempt to develop better public health programs.
5. Working on banning Planned Parenthood from providing sex ed materials in public schools.
Lawmakers may not be willing to vote for measures that would improve sex ed, but they’re happy to advance legislation to move in the opposite direction. Accusing Planned Parenthood employees of using sex ed materials as a scheme to sell more abortions, the legislature is considering a measure that would bar abortion providers from providing any information about sexual health in public schools. In reality, Planned Parenthood is the biggest sex ed provider in the country, and has a long history of providing these type of health resources to teens. Nonetheless, House Bill 305 would effectively reinforce the stigma surrounding abortion, suggesting that every employee connected with an abortion provider must be morally corrupt.