Louisiana moves to outlaw abortion entirely

Yeah, you read that right. Last Tuesday, the Louisiana Health and Welfare Committee passed, with a 10-2 vote, a bill that would make abortion provision illegal, with exceptions to save the life of the woman, but no exception if the woman was pregnant as the result of rape or incest. HB 645 (formerly known as HB 587), would send doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana to prison for up to 15 years.

The Times-Picayune reports:

The bill would make it a crime to provide an abortion or prescribe drugs with the intent of ending a pregnancy. There would be exceptions for medically necessary abortions, as certified by a physician, but not for cases of rape or incest. The measure also would bar the Louisiana Medicaid program from covering any abortion, also with no exception for cases of rape or incest, a move that state health officials said could threaten about $5 billion in federal Medicaid financing.

This bill is a “personhood” bill; it would redefine human life as beginning at fertilization and grant the fetus constitutional rights from that moment. It has the support of Personhood USA – in this video, if you can hold back the vomit, you can see a representative of that organization say that banning abortion for rape survivors is the compassionate thing to do. “If you really care about a rape victim,” she told the hearing last week, “you would want to protect her from abortion, not the baby. A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim. An abortion is.”

It was put forward by a Congressman by the name of John LaBruzzo. It is also, oh, what’s the word, unconstitutional. It is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, and it is designed to provoke a lawsuit that will inevitably go all the way to the Supreme Court, which, given its current make-up, could very well overturn Roe. It’s an impossible double-bind for pro-choicers: do you let this bill stand and see abortion effectively banned in the state of Louisiana (and in the other states that, emboldened and provided with precedent, would inevitably follow suit), or do you challenge it and risk seeing abortion officially banned in all fifty states?

The bill, called the Human Life Protection Act – unless you are living the human life of a pregnant rape survivor, in which case, fuck you! – will be debated on the House floor on Monday afternoon. For more information, check out Say No to HB 645.

You can watch videos from the Health and Welfare hearing here, and hear Rachel Maddow explain how the Louisiana bill fits into a larger trend of “personhood” bills being put forward around the country here.

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Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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