Louisiana lawmakers moved a bill out of committee on Wednesday that could make having an abortion grounds for homicide charges, going far beyond current state-level abortion penalties, and taking effect regardless of whether the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
- HB813 passed the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee in a 7-2 vote and will now go to the full House for debate.
- The bill “fully recognizes [s]the human personhood of an unborn child” starting at the “moment of fertilization” and grants embryos and fetuses the same rights under law as human beings out of the womb.
- This means having, assisting, or performing an abortion would be classified as a homicide.
- The legislation would take effect immediately even if federal abortion rights are still in place and the Supreme Court hasn’t overturned Roe v. Wade, as the bill stipulates it should be enforced “without regard to the opinions and judgments of the Supreme Court of the United States in Roe v. Wade” or any other past or future abortion-related rulings, as well as any federal statutes or executive orders.
- Any state judge who tries to block the law should be impeached or removed, the bill states.
What To Watch For:
If passed into law, the bill is likely to end up in court, as even supporters of the bill admitted on Wednesday that it may violate the Constitution.
What We Are Unaware Of:
What are the potential repercussions of the legislation? During the hearing on Wednesday, critics pointed out that the measure might go beyond abortion and punish those who use in vitro fertilization, because not all eggs fertilized during IVF would result in a pregnancy, meaning some will be “killed” as defined by HB813. It could also be used to punish people who use birth control pills, which inhibit fertilization, or emergency contraceptive techniques like Plan B, according to attorneys opposing the bill, according to the Louisiana Illuminator.
Critic In Chief:
During Wednesday’s session, New Orleans lawyer Gwyneth O’Neill told the committee, “This bill undermines the basic system of government in this country,” according to the Advocate. “This bill is dangerous. This bill is unconstitutional. This legislation is clearly unconstitutional.”
The Louisiana bill was introduced two days after Politico claimed that the Supreme Court may soon overturn Roe v. Wade, citing a draught opinion from February that calls the 1973 decision “egregiously incorrect.” Louisiana is one of 13 states that have passed “trigger bans” that will prohibit abortion immediately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
HB813, which would make performing an abortion a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine, goes well beyond the state’sexisting trigger ban. While all of the new abortion restrictions make executing an abortion a criminal punishable by prison time, none of them penalize the individual who had the abortion, making HB813 particularly harsh.