Gov. Bobby Jindal signed three landmark abortion bills on Tuesday that significantly tighten the state’s regulations on abortionists and their practices, and opt out the state from the national health care reform’s abortion mandates.
Jindal signed two bills that were introduced and shepherded through the legislature by the Louisiana Right to Life Federation (LARTL). The Ultrasound before Abortion Act (SB 528) adds strict ultrasound requirements to the state’s informed consent laws. The law requires abortionists to perform an ultrasound on a woman at least two hours before she undergoes the induced abortion of her child, and before she is put under any kind of anesthesia.
Abortion facility employees must also follow a detailed script set forth in the legislation, offering pregnant mothers the opportunity to see the ultrasound image, hear a description of the image, and receive a printout of the ultrasound image. To guarantee compliance, legislators added a provision stating that abortionists failing to adhere to the law could expect to find themselves sued in civil court by their clients.
The other bill, the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out (HB 1247), prohibits health insurers from providing abortion coverage within the state-run health insurance exchange that will go into operation in 2014, as mandated by the national health care reform. A provision of the national law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, gives states the explicit right to ban health insurance companies receiving public subsidies under the state health exchange from providing abortion coverage.
The Louisiana measure even protects children conceived in situations of rape and incest, leaving just one exception for insurance companies – allowing them to pay for abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger from “a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury” including “a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”
With Jindal’s signature, Louisiana becomes the fourth state in the union to opt-out of the abortion mandate.
“We brought these bills forward to the legislature out of the desire to increase the positive effects of ultrasound and to prevent the government funding of abortion,” commented Benjamin Clapper, LARTL’s Executive Director, in a statement. “We are confident these new laws will save the lives of unborn children and open the door to life-affirming choices for mothers.”
In addition to the above bills, Governor Jindal signed another major abortion reform into law (HB 1370), introduced by Democrat Rep. Fred Mills, that gives abortionists and abortion clinic owners no room to run from the long arm of the law.
Mills’ legislation empowers the Department of Health and Hospitals to shut down the operation of abortion facilities not in compliance with Louisiana law. And the DHH secretary may also immediately shut down a clinic’s operations if a DHH investigation rules that the clinic is violating the law and poses “an immediate threat to the health and safety of a patient or client.”
But abortionists would not just be able to set up shop at another location. If an abortion facility violates the law, state or federal, and the DHH Secretary either chooses to “deny, refuse, or revoke” the operating license of its owner, then all the facilities licensed under that owner would have to cease their operations. In addition to this, the law states that “any owner, officer, member, manager, director, or administrator of the licensee may be prohibited from owning, managing, directing, or operating another outpatient abortion clinic in [Louisiana].”
The law is a major reform, but it actually just brings outpatient abortion clinics into compliance with Louisiana’s regulations that already apply to hospitals.
“Louisiana furthered its exemplary commitment to defending unborn human life by enacting these critical pieces of pro-life legislation,” said Clapper. “We thank Governor Jindal for signing these bills into law and for his administration working with us every step of the way to pass these measures.”