26 April 2006

Louisiana State Senate Voting to Ban Abortion Today (26 April 2006)

On Wednesday, 26 April 2006, the Louisiana State Senate will vote on SB 33 -- a bill that would criminalize abortion in Louisiana.

Here's a description of the proposed law from the KATC TV News web site:
La. lawmaker expects a fight over abortion bill
BATON ROUGE, La. -- State senators disagree over a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions, and several will probably try to add exceptions for victims of rape and incest when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday, the measure's sponsor said.

Sen. Ben Nevers' bill would allow abortions only to save the life of the mother. He said he knows of several senators who will attempt to amend it to add the two additional exceptions. Sen. Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan, a supporter, has said he feared the measure would not get support of the full Legislature unless the exceptions were added.

Nevers said he would fight any such change. He said he agrees with churches and religious groups -- backers of the bill -- that it should be "as pro-life as it can be."

"They want a bill that has the least exceptions, one that would protect as many unborn lives as we can," said Nevers, D-Bogalusa.

Under the measure, doctors found guilty of performing abortions would face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $100,000.

Opponents include Planned Parenthood, which held a rally on the Capitol steps Tuesday and lobbied senators to vote against the bill.

The bill is set for Senate floor debate on Wednesday afternoon.

The measure is similar to a South Dakota law passed earlier this year that is expected to land before the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court takes up such an appeal, it would constitute a reconsideration of its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the right to an abortion. A majority of the Supreme Court's nine justices have voted to uphold Roe v. Wade in the past.

Nevers said some opposition to the measure has disappeared because he amended it to allay concerns that the bill would provoke lawsuits -- and cost the state money -- if it passed. Nevers changed the measure to give it a "trigger" mechanism, meaning it would only go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned or if a federal constitutional amendment outlawing abortion is ratified.

Nevers said opponents worried about lawsuits have disappeared because it could not have any effect unless one of those two events occur.

"Those concerns were done away with," he said.

A competing bill, by Rep. Tim Burns, R-Mandeville, includes rape and incest exceptions but has not come up for a vote.
If you're interested in working to defeat this proposed law, Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta has pro-choice advocacy information here:

URGENT! SB 33 on the Senate Floor Wednesday, 4/26!

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