Justice

LA GOP Rep Defends Bill Banning Abortion, Compares Women Seeking Abortions To Heroin Addicts

As ThinkProgress’s Marie Diamond reported last week, the extreme anti-abortion group Personhood USA is making headway in GOP-led state legislatures across the country with efforts to turn abortion — and even forms of birth control — into “the legal equivalent of homicide.” While consistently faltering in Colorado, it seems the Personhood movement has a firm grip on Alabama, Mississippi, Georiga, Texas, Montana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and now — Louisiana.

Today, the Louisiana House will debate a bill that would make abortion “a prosecutable crime for doctors who perform” a constitutionally-protected service or prescribe drugs with the intent of ending a pregnancy. Originally planning to prosecute women as well, the bill — introduced by state Rep. John Labruzzo (R) — now allows for medical exceptions but no exception for rape or incest. Labruzzo, who once suggested sterilizing poor women to lower welfare costs, was joined by a Personhood USA lawyer in a recent committee hearing to defend his radical efforts.

During the hearing, a fellow lawmaker noted LaBruzzo’s bill will have “unintended consequences when we do that broad brush” and questioned whether the bill would cause a “dramatic decrease on the abortion rate.” Sitting beside the Personhood lawyer, LaBruzzo dismissed her concerns and launched into a comparison between reproductive rights and drug abuse. To him, a woman who seeks an abortion is just like a heroin addict:

LABRUZZO: I can assure you if abortion is illegal, it will have a dramatic decrease in the number of abortions that take place. Now the opponents in the opposition argue that whether we make it illegal or not, people are going to get abortions. Well, we’ve illegalized [sic] murder and drugs for a long long time, and yet those crimes continue to take place. And it’s not our stance here to say that “just because people smoke pot and break the law or use heroin and break the law, then we should legalize it.” There are many who say we should. But we don’t agree, we don’t think so. We think it’s wrong and it’s best to keep it illegal…This is the pro-life bill. And I think you’d be in a difficult situation if you voted against this bill and tried to convince everybody that you are ardently pro-life.

Watch it courtesy of the Florida Independent:

But LaBruzzo is not the only right-wing representative in Louisiana’s anti-abortion game. Last week, a Senate committee passed state Rep. Frank Hoffman’s (R) bill that would further imperil woman’s access to health care by allowing anti-choice health care providers to summarily reject providing any kind of abortion service even if the woman’s health is at stake. In 2009, Louisiana passed a law allowing any health care provider to refuse abortion-related services if it “violates his conscience to the extent that patient access to health care is not compromised.” Hoffman’s bill would eliminate “the qualifier that a medical professional’s decision cannot threaten patient’s right to care.”

As Planned Parenthood’s Julie Mickelberry noted, the bill could “go well beyond abortion” and end up denying women access to birth control, “both conventional prescriptions and emergency contraception.” Under this bill, gynecologists could refuse to prescribe birth control, pharmacists could refuse to fill legal prescriptions for such birth control. Such refusals, Mickelberry adds, would be particularly harmful to “women in rural areas with limited health care options or fro women, regardless of where they live, whose insurance allows limited office visits.”