Two Pro-Life Bills Head to Louisiana Governor Edwards

Yesterday, two key pro-life bills in Louisiana Right to Life’s 2016 Legislative Package overwhelmingly passed the Louisiana Senate. HB 386, the Women’s Enhanced Reflection Act, and HB 618, the Compassionate Burial Options Act, will soon head to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk for his signature.

La. State Rep. Frank Hoffmann

La. State Rep. Frank Hoffmann

* HB 386, authored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R-West Monroe), would increase the current time for reflection between pre-abortion counseling and the actual abortion procedure from 24 hours to 72 hours. The bill passed the Senate floor by a 34-4 margin and now heads back to the House of Representatives for technical concurrence before going to Gov. Edwards, who has expressed his support for the legislation. Louisiana Right to Life assisted Rep. Hoffman in preparation and support of HB 386, and the Bioethics Defense Fund provided legal consultation.

“Reflection periods longer than 24 hours are common across major decisions people must make in America, including getting married, signing a mortgage, and more,” said Louisiana Right to Life Legislative Director Deanna Wallace. “It is appropriate to allow women to have extra reflection time before abortion because of the magnitude of the decision in a woman’s life. As testimony has shown, many women regret their abortion decision and now wish they had been given a longer reflection period.”

She continued, “We must also remember that abortion facilities in Louisiana are only selling one service: abortion. HB 386 empowers women with more time to appropriately consider all their options, including parenting and adoption, from sources other than the profit-focused abortion facility.”

A portion of the bill exempting women who live 150 miles or more from the abortion facility from the 72-hour requirement was added back to the legislation on the Senate floor. It had previously been removed in Senate committee.

“The 150-mile provision keeps the legislation consistent with recent federal court opinions, including the recent 5th Circuit decision on the Louisiana admitting privilege law,” Wallace said. “According to the 5th Circuit’s findings in that case, the exception would apply to less than 10 percent of Louisiana women of child-bearing age.

“We are grateful to Rep. Frank Hoffman for authoring the legislation, and to Rep. Regina Barrow for carrying the legislation on the Senate floor. We are grateful as well to Gov. Edwards for his support of the legislation.”

La. State Rep. Tom Willmott

La. State Rep. Tom Willmott

* HB 618, authored by Rep. Tom Willmott (R-Kenner), would require hospitals to inform parents who suffer the tragedy of miscarriage that they have a right to bury or cremate their child. HB 618 passed the Senate floor 38-0. Louisiana Right to Life assisted Rep. Willmott in preparing this legislation.

“The Compassionate Burial Options Act gives parents the right to bury or cremate the remains of babies who have passed away in miscarriage,” Wallace said. “Parents who have suffered this tragedy have shared with us that they wish they had this opportunity to promote their own emotional healing process.

Wallace concluded, “We applaud Rep. Willmott for his leadership, and thank Sen. Ryan Gatti for carrying the legislation on the Senate floor. We look forward to Gov. Edwards signing this important legislation!”

More pro-life bills are expected to be considered in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee today (HB 488) and next week.

Editor’s note. This update was provided by Louisiana Right to Life, NRLC’s state affiliate.