Louisiana lawmakers have passed two bills that strengthen the state’s pro-life stance. Senate Bill 388 makes it illegal to mail the abortion pill, while Senate Bill 342 increases the penalties for abortionists who violate the law if the state’s trigger law is implemented.
Following a triumph in the House in April, SB 388 passed the state Senate with a 31-1 vote on Friday. Shipping the abortion-inducing medicines misoprostol and mifepristone through the mail, including from out of state, is now illegal.
Rep. Sharon Hewitt, the bill’s sponsor, has stated that while the state now mandates that the abortion pill be provided by and taken in front of a physician, the law isn’t explicit enough and that her bill will “close a loophole.”
According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, the medicines are now responsible for 54 percent of abortions.
“We’re targeting manufacturers and distributors who are taking advantage of women,” Hewitt said.
The bill contains a five- to a ten-year prison sentence as well as a $10,000 to $75,000 fine. If the mother is a minor, the abortion pill provider could face a sentence of 15 to 50 years in prison and/or a fine of $15,000 to $100,000.
During a committee hearing, Angie Thomas of Louisiana Right to Life, an anti-abortion rights organization, claimed that she was able to obtain and get the two pills through the mail within days after ordering them online without any consultation or inquiries from the physician.
Louisiana is one of the most restrictive states in the country when it comes to abortion rights.
Opponents of Hewitt’s measure claim that imposing more limits on abortion will make it less safe, and they are concerned that women may be prosecuted for seeking and having an abortion.
SB 342, the second bill, enhances the state’s “trigger law,” which would take effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The trigger law would protect nearly all preborn children in the state if it became law.
The initiative, which is sponsored by pro-life Democratic Senator Katrina Jackson, increases the punishment for abortionists who break the law to 1-10 years in jail and fines ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. The measure makes exceptions for individuals who perform abortions in situations concerning the mother’s life or health (but abortion is never medically necessary) or if the preborn child has a condition deemed “incompatible with life.”
Both bills are now on their way to Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk. Edwards has not said whether he will sign the bills, but he did speak about SB 342 at a press conference on Thursday, saying he would prefer it to include exceptions for rape and incest.
However, he added that “vetoing the bill would not achieve what I would like to have, which is the exceptions for rape and incest.” Edwards has previously signed pro-life legislation.
Unless Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards votes against the bill, it will become law on August 1.