Louisiana Lawmakers Pass "Fetal Heartbeat" Abortion Ban

May 30, 2019

Rep. Valarie Hodges (R) Denham Springs presents Senate Bill 184 to restrict abortion in Louisiana when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Credit Courtesy: La. House of Representatives

LA ABORTION BILL -  Yesterday State Lawmakers in Baton Rouge passed an abortion bill that restricts the procedure if a fetal heartbeat is detected which is around 6 weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.  The bill allows an exception only if the life of the mother is at risk or if the pregnancy is deemed medically futile.  The bill goes to Governor John Bel Edwards,  the  only Democratic governor in the deep south who supports the ban and will likely sign the bill into law. Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs), presented the bill on the House floor for the author, Senator John Milkovich (D-Shreveport).

"When you can hear a baby’s heartbeat, that is proof that life is present," explained Hodges.

Louisiana now joins several other states across the South and Midwest in passing a ban on abortions after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected,  which is about  six weeks,  before many women know they are pregnant which Representative Hodges disputed.

“By week five, you know, or week six or seven, you certainly know if you are pregnant or not,” said Representative Hodges.

Representative Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge) explains the issue of rape and incest and why an exception should be made to amend HB-184.
Credit Courtesy: La. House of Representatives

But the bill’s opponents disagreed saying women don’t always know they’re pregnant that early on and by the time a woman may find out she’s pregnant after six weeks, abortion would no longer be an option. The House rejected three attempts to allow abortions in the case of rape or incest. Representative Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge) said in doing so, the Legislature failed to consider young girls who become pregnant as a result of rape.

"How dare you tell a 9 year-old, a 10 year-old, 11 year-old that they’re suppose to carry a baby for an uncle, a father, or someone in their family that's taken advantage of them?" Representative Smith asked members of the House.

But the majority of the Legislature disagreed. Representative Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) said this in opposition to an amendment that would have added an exception in the case of rape or incest.

Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement after the measure was passed, saying he will sign the bill into law. Louisiana’s abortion restriction would only take effect if a similar law in Mississippi is upheld. A federal judge blocked that law last week.