Louisiana committee delays decision on fetal abnormality bill

Down syndrome, Denmark

On Tuesday, the Louisiana State Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee postponed a decision on legislation that would prohibit abortions sought on the basis of a child’s genetic abnormalities.

HB 1019, which passed the House 75-1 last month, would punish abortionists violating the law with a potential maximum of two years in prison and a $1,000 fine, as well as civil penalties and disciplinary action.

Despite supporting many other pro-life bills, such as the recently passed 72-hour waiting period for abortion and banning the dismemberment abortion procedure, some on the committee hesitated over fears the law might not survive a likely legal challenge. ““If we can’t win [in court], why are we doing this?” Republican Senator Jay Luneau said. “We can’t afford it. We’re broke.”

However, Louisiana Right to Life maintains the bill is necessary for “upholding the dignity of that [disabled] child and saying you cannot discriminate against them.” Democrat Senator Regina Barrow also told the committee about her nephew, whose mother was advised to abort her disabled, now-25-year-old son: “If we had followed the advice we would have missed out on a blessing to our family.”

During his gubernatorial campaign, pro-life Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards ran ads recounting how he and his wife refused to abort their daughter Samantha, who has spina bifida.

The committee is expected to consider the bill again next week.

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