Louisiana Bill to Classify Abortion as Homicide Is Dead

State lawmakers passed amendment that 'dismantled' proposal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2022 6:23 AM CDT
Updated May 13, 2022 4:37 AM CDT
Louisiana Advances Bill to Classify Abortion as Murder
Rep. Danny McCormick speaks on his bill, HB813, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in the House Chambers of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, La.   (Hillary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

Update: A Louisiana anti-abortion bill that was strongly opposed even by prominent anti-abortion groups is history. State Rep. Danny McCormick, the bill's Republican sponsor, pulled the bill from debate Thursday night after the GOP-dominated House voted in favor of an amendment that "essentially dismantled" it, the New York Times reports. The amendment from Republican Rep. Alan Seabaugh removed criminal penalties for women who have abortions and allowed abortion in cases where it would save the life of the pregnant woman, reports the AP. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who normally supports anti-abortion legislation, called it "absurd" to prosecute women for abortion and said he would veto the bill. Our story from May 5 follows:

Louisiana lawmakers have advanced an anti-abortion bill considered extreme even by the standards of its Southern neighbors. A measure that cleared a committee in the State House of Representatives in a 7-2 vote Wednesday would classify abortion as homicide, enabling prosecutors to file charges against women who end their pregnancies at any stage, the New York Times reports. House Bill 813, authored by Republican state Rep. Danny McCormick, states that personhood begins at the moment of conception and does not include any exemptions, reports USA Today.

"No compromises," said the Rev. Brian Gunter, who helped McCormick draft the bill. He said that like at least a dozen other states, Louisiana has a "trigger law" that will ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade as expected next month, but it is "woefully insufficient." Republican state Rep. Tony Bacala said he voted to advance the bill to a vote in the full House, but he believes it will be deemed unconstitutional. "There may be better options that can actually go into practice instead of concepts that I feel like are probably going to be struck down," he said, per USA Today. Critics say the bill is "blatantly unconstitutional" and could also criminalize some forms of birth control.

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Chris Kaisers, advocacy director for the ACLU of Louisiana, called the measure "a barbaric bill that would subject people to murder prosecutions, punishable by life without parole, for having abortions." Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who has supported anti-abortion legislation in the past, has declined to say whether he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk. The Washington Post reports that while anti-abortion lawmakers in the past have avoided legislation that would punish women who have abortions—and Donald Trump was strongly criticized for floating the idea during his 2016 campaign—abortion rights group fear that will change if Roe is overturned. (More abortion stories.)

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