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Jews On First!

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Louisiana enacts no-exceptions abortion law

by, June 8, 2006

You'll find links to news reports and other resources at the end of this report.

The Louisiana legislature has passed a law criminalizing abortion and ruling out exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, plans to sign the bill in the next few days, her office told JewsOnFirst.

In its barring of exceptions and establishing harsh criminal penalties for abortion providers, the Louisiana bill resembles South Dakota's law passed earlier this year as an explicit challenge to the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, which affirmed a woman's right to choose. Louisiana's law will not take effect unless the Court overturns Roe vs. Wade.

Even so, the law "has implications for women in the 49 other states," said Ted Miller, communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice America. The law, he said, is "a direct attack on women's freedom and privacy."

Governor Blanco "would have liked to have exceptions added," her deputy press secretary, Roderick Hawkins, told JewsOnFirst. But "she has always been pro-life," he said, and "the bill does have some exceptions for the life of the mother." Hawkins said Blanco is "going along with the legislation" because of the legislature's "overwhelming" vote for it.

The House passed the bill on May 31st by a vote of 85 to 17. Earlier, legislators debated amendment to allow abortions for victims of rape or incest. They rejected it by a vote of 66-37.

The state Senate, where the bill had originated, passed it unanimously on June 5th.

Shortly before taking up the abortion bill the legislature considered, and turned down, a measure to increase the availability of emergency contraception to rape victims.

According to Ted Miller of Pro-Choice America, only six percent of the rape treatment offices in Louisiana provide emergency contraception to victims.

While the legislature was considering the law, the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, a membership organization of sexual assault crisis centers in the state, posted on its website a summary of research supporting the importance of choice to rape and incest victims. It introduces the subject saying "Rape and incest are about taking control of the victim’s body and decisions about her life away from her. This ban does the same thing." Among the documented findings:

  • One in eight Louisiana women over age 18 will be the victim of a forcible rape during her adult lifetime.
  • Fear of pregnancy is one of the most common fears of both women and adolescent girls following sexual assault.
  • In a survey of American adult women, rape resulted in pregnancy in 5% of all sexual assaults.
  • Between 11% and 20% of pregnant teenagers in a large study became pregnant as a direct result of rape. These victims are unlikely to be on birth control pills, have an intrauterine device or a pre-existing pregnancy, or to have had a tubal ligation or hysterectomy.
  • Forcing a rape or incest victim to continue a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest can result in her being re-victimized and re-traumatized every single day. Seventy-one percent of sexual assault survivors stated that one of their main concerns following the assault is that people will know she has been sexually assaulted. A pregnancy following rape cannot be hidden from the world.
  • Because of this continued victimization, it is unlikely that good prenatal care will result as some of the health related risks of sexual assault are...[a]ttempted or completed suicide, (Rape victims were 4.1 times more likely than non-crime victims to have contemplated suicide and 13 times more likely to have made a suicide attempt.

To read the entire summary, click here.

The foundation has also posted personal stories of rape victims whose attackers impregnated them. Two excerpts:

I was brutally raped at the age of 19 by an ex-boyfriend. I got pregnant as a result and had an abortion. If I had been forced to carry the child to term, I definitely would have committed suicide. To make a rape victim carry the child of her rapist is unbelievably cruel and certainly not "Christian".
Dear Governor Blanco,
I am a sexual assault nurse and recently I saw a 15 year old girl who was assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. She was a few weeks pregnant. During the course of my interview with the girl and her mother it was discovered that her mother was also pregnant by the same man. You can imagine how devastating the news of an assault can be but to compound that with the knowledge that mother and daughter are pregnant by the same man is almost unimaginable. My role was to collect evidence for prosecution and to do some family and crisis interventions. I don't know if this family chose abortion as an option but I do know they had a choice. In a free society knowing you have a choice empowers you as a person and allow you to make the right choice for your circumstances. Please veto the bill that would criminalize abortion for survivors of rape. Send the message that democracy is about choice and not about limiting choice and access.

For more of the personal stories collected by the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, please click here.

Louisiana Senate Bill 33

To view the text of the bill that was passed June 5, click here.

For other pages on the bill, click here.

Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault

For more on the abortion law, please click here.

House endorses abortion bill
Near-total ban makes exception only in mother's health

By Marsha Shuler, The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), June 1, 2006

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly endorsed a near total ban on abortions in Louisiana.

On an 85-17 vote, the House approved legislation that would only allow abortions when the mother's life and health, in some cases, is at stake.

The vote came after more than two hours of debate and rejection of a key amendment that would have allowed abortion in cases of rape and incest. Continue

Louisiana House approves strict ban on abortion

By Doug Simpson, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), May 31, 2006

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana House approved a near-total ban on abortion on Wednesday, a measure that could only go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is overturned.

House members rejected an attempt by Rep. Charlie DeWitt, D-Alexandria, to allow exceptions for rape and incest victims. Dewitt's amendment failed on a vote of 37-66 after opponents argued that the measure should prevent as many abortions as possible. Continue

Louisiana Legislature, Governor Give Green Light to Criminal Ban on Abortion

News Relese, NARAL Pro-Choice America, June 6, 2006

Washington, DC— Today, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued the following statement in response to the Louisiana legislature's passage of a bill to ban abortion. The ban, intended to take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned, would outlaw abortion in Louisiana in nearly all circumstances. The action comes less than three months after Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD) of South Dakota signed into law a ban on abortion that supporters touted as a direct challenge to Roe.

"The Louisiana legislature's vote to criminalize abortion and Gov. Kathleen Blanco's (D-LA) recent statement that she would refuse to veto this attack on privacy is the next step in a campaign led by extreme anti-choice groups and their allies to overturn Roe v. Wade." Click here

Louisiana's Democratic governor to sign abortion bill with no exceptions for rape or incest

Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, June 2, 2006

According to Kaiser's summary, the bill provides for high fines and imprisonment for abortion providers but not for the woman who undergoes the procedure. The measure will take effect when the Supreme Court reverses Roe vs. Wade. Click here for the summary.

Louisiana House Approves Ban on Most Abortions, Senate Expected to Agree

by Steven Ertelt,, June 1, 2006

Baton Rouge, LA ( -- The Louisiana state House has approved a ban on most abortions that is different from a South Dakota one in that it will only go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortion. On an 85-17 vote, the House backed the measure, which would prohibit all abortions except those necessary to save the woman's life or to prevent permanent and major health problems. As a result, almost all abortions in the state would be prohibited if Roe is reversed.

Passage of the bill was never a question but the most contentious issue during debate on the House floor was whether or not to add exceptions for rape and incest. Amendments sponsored by Rep. Charlie Dewitt (D) to add those exceptions failed 67-36. Continue