Home » A House committee rejected a proposed change to abortion laws at a hearing Monday

A House committee rejected a proposed change to abortion laws at a hearing Monday

by Minden Press-Herald

By Jordyn Wilson | LSU Manship School News Service

By a 10-2 vote, a House committee rejected a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at overturning the state’s abortion ban and safeguarding individual rights in pregnancy-related health decisions.

 The House Civil Law and Procedure Committee voted Monday to kill House Bill 245, a proposed constitutional amendment by Rep. Aimee Adatto Freeman, D-New Orleans. 

Freeman conveyed to legislators the pressure doctors face in treating problem pregnancies and her apprehension regarding the diagnostic hurdles. 

“I know this is a very sensitive and specific issue to so many individuals and constituents across the state,” she said. “Doctors go to med school to save lives….When they are fearful of what may come next, they are less likely to act.”

 But critics of the bill–mainly GOP legislators–said the proposed amendment went too far by allowing abortions under pretty much any circumstance.

 “There is a difference between a child not surviving in a womb,” said Rep. Emily Chenevert, R-Baton Rouge, compared to “intentionally ending the life of a child in the womb.”

  Republican lawmakers noted that Louisiana voters had already approved anti-abortion ballot measures in recent years, most recently in 2020 when they voted to add restrictive language to the state constitution.

 “If the language in the amendment would’ve been a problem, we would not have gotten 60+ percent” of the public vote, said Rep. Mark Wright, R- Covington. 

Invoking Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortion for decades until the U.S. Supreme Court reversed it, Freeman pointed out that laws change: “I’m a different representative in this time,” said Freeman. “I didn’t have voter say; some of us are new.”

Freeman referenced an LSU poll conducted last year, revealing that 52 percent of respondents in Louisiana supported legalizing abortion in all or most cases. Moreover, the poll indicated that 85 percent of respondents believed a woman should be able to obtain an abortion if her life is endangered due to pregnancy, while 77 percent supported access to abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape.

Nancy Davis, who faced obstacles in accessing abortion care and had to travel out of state to obtain an abortion, echoed these sentiments. “These decisions are personal and should be protected from government interference,” she said. “Laws banning abortion do not stop it. It makes it more dangerous.” 

Both of the yes votes for the bill came from Democrats.

Although House Bill 245 was defeated, Rep. Freeman also is sponsoring House Bill 293, which is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice. It also attempts to clarify the law governing specific abortion procedures.

In other action at the Capitol Monday:

– The House Transportation Committee voted 6-5 to advance a bill by Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, to drop the requirement for inspection stickers for cars in Louisiana. If the bill makes it into law, the only requirements left would be for auto owners in East Baton Rouge Parish and four nearby parishes to get annual emissions tests. 

– The House Civil Law Committee advanced a bill by Rep. Joseph Orgeron, R-Cut Off, to create a constitutional amendment to dedicate funds from alternative energy projects on state coastal lands to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund.

– The full House voted 86-13 to approve a bill by Rep. Beau Beaullieu, R-New Iberia, to lower the severance tax rate on various oil wells over eight years from 12.5% to $8.5%. The change would cost the state $79 million a year in tax revenues once it was fully in place.

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