Roe v. Wade overturned: What does it mean for Louisiana?
BATON ROUGE - With Roe v. Wade overruled, a Louisiana trigger law installing aggressive abortion restrictions will now take hold, banning the procedure within the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision on Friday after weeks of speculation precipitated by a leaked draft of the new ruling. The move ends decades of federal protections for abortions and allows states to write up their own legislation regulating the procedure.
In Louisiana, a bill signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards earlier this week makes doctors subject to a prison sentence of up to 10 years if they perform an abortion and includes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. While signing the legislation Tuesday, the governor said he believed there should be such exceptions but argued that vetoing Senator Katrina Jackson's bill "would not accomplish that end."
"In fact, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would leave fewer exceptions in place than if the bill becomes law and would further confuse whether pregnancy begins at fertilization or implantation," Governor Edwards said in a statement. "For these reasons, I have signed Senate Bill 342 into law.”
The law replaced existing legislation from 2006—which would have only taken effect in the event of Roe v. Wade being overruled—that excluded some protections outlined in the new law, namely instances of medical futility. However, critics argued the heightened penalties for performing abortions and text redefining what legally constitutes an "unborn child"—as well as changing other legal definitions—would do more harm than good.
State officials reported that Louisiana's three abortion clinics had already ceased operating as of late Friday morning.
Read the governor's full statement from Friday below.
“I am and have always been unabashedly pro-life and opposed to abortion. However, I understand that people on both sides of this complex issue hold deeply personal beliefs, and I respect that not everyone, including many in my own party, agrees with my position.
While we are still reviewing the decision issued by the Court this morning, Louisiana has had a trigger law in place since 2006 that would outlaw abortion, without exception for rape and incest, should the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
I asked the Legislature to include exceptions for rape and incest in the legislation most recently passed. While the bill that passed expanded the exceptions from the 2006 law to include instances of medical futility and treatment of ectopic pregnancies, these important exceptions were not included.
As I have said many times before, I believe women who are survivors of rape or incest should be able determine whether to continue with a pregnancy that is the result of a criminal act.
And, to be clear, the legislation I recently signed protects all forms of contraception, including emergency contraception, which remains fully legal and available in Louisiana.
Being pro-life means more than just being against abortion. It means providing the necessary resources and implementing policies that provide real options and not just lip service to the children, women, and families we are blessed to serve. Now more than ever, it’s critical that Louisiana funds services to support women, children, and families throughout their lives, which is why I have expanded health care through our Medicaid program and lobbied for measures to make sure workers are paid better and more fairly. It’s also why I’ve supported better funding for Louisiana’s public education system, including early childhood education. I believe all people should have the opportunity to succeed and that starts with providing a strong foundation early in life.
Make no mistake, there is much more that we can do to support women, children, and families, and I hope that my fellow pro-life public officials will join me in these efforts in the coming months and years.”
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