Louisiana Ultrasound Law Challenged in Federal Court

Pro-abortion advocates have filed suit in federal court against the state of Louisiana over the “Ultrasound before Abortion Act” signed last month into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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 prescribed by law, 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 New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, representing six abortion facilities and an abortionist in Louisiana, filed suit with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. According to the Associated Press, the pro-abortion legal group argues the ultrasound law is “unconstitutionally vague,” saying it is not clear whether employees should try to pressure a woman into accepting an ultrasound printout. They also contend that delivery of the printout could expose a woman’s right to confidentiality to third parties.

The CRR’s arguments, however, were rejected by pro-life advocates responsible for crafting the bill as unfounded.

“The Louisiana abortion industry’s lawsuit is a baseless attempt to tie-up this life-saving law in federal court,” said Benjamin Clapper, Director of Louisiana Right to Life Federation, and Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, in a joint statement. Both pro-life groups gave substantial assistance to Senator Sharon Weston Broome (D-15), the Senate’s President Pro Tempore, in crafting the bill and getting the legislature’s approval.

“The Louisiana ‘Ultrasound Before Abortion Act’ promotes informed decisions, and respects the woman’s right to have full access to medical information about her pregnancy and to the images of her unborn child,” they explained. “The Louisiana law mandates that an ultrasound be performed to determine viability and health issues, but it is strictly optional whether the woman chooses to view the ultrasound, to hear an explanation or to receive a print.”

The CRR also is challenging the constitutionality of another law, which exempts abortionists from state or private malpractice coverage when they conduct an abortion on a “uncomplicated and viable pregnancy” that poses no risk to the life of the mother. They contest the law would deter doctors from performing abortions, and therefore would place an unconstitutional burden on women’s right to an abortion.

The law was proposed by Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Marksville, and passed in the legislature by overwhelming bipartisan margins before being signed into law by Gov. Jindal on July 7.

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