Anti-Abortion Bills Seek To Emancipate Citizens of Any and All Abortion Rights

Pro-Choice Rally and Press Conference Chicago Illinois 3-4-20_5592” by is marked with CC PDM 1.0.

During February’s Black History Month programming, many television stations showed documentaries on the Civil Rights movement. The historical newscasts of the protests against desegregation — showing throngs of white adults shouting abuse at African-American children trying to go school — are disturbing to watch. The mobs were fighting against the federally guaranteed rights of their neighbors to equal access.

There is a bill before the Louisiana legislature which will actually empower such vigilantes by deputizing private citizens to keep people from exercising their constitutional rights. Past efforts in the fight against abortion had seen lawmakers push the government in between patients and their doctors. This effort to thwart access could weaken the collective liberties of the US Constitution.

House Bill 800 by Representative Larry Bagley copied a bill from Texas. His bill would provide a bounty of $10,000 for anyone – a relative, an abusive partner, strangers — to bring civil action to enforce an abortion ban, to sue health care providers and to block the patient’s abortion or anyone who aids and abets someone seeking abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy.

Michelle Erenberg, the Executive Director of Lift Louisiana said, “What started as a novel state-created scheme to enable and incentivize private actors to prevent other individuals from exercising their federal constitutional rights has now become a new anti-abortion crusade that Louisiana is attempting to join. This is the most blatant attempt to subvert federal authority since the Jim Crow era.”

Another extremist anti-abortion bill is HB 813 by Representative Danny McCormick. This bill would amend existing law to define “unborn child” as an individual human being from fertilization until birth. 

Such a law could impinge on all sorts of medical procedures including criminalizing birth control and miscarriages, restricting treatment for ectopic pregnancies, denying life-saving treatments like chemotherapy if there is the possibility it may result in miscarriage and potentially eliminating in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive technologies.

“The most egregious anti-abortion bill this session is HB813 by Representative Danny McCormick redefining personhood as beginning at fertilization. This would essentially outlaw any form of birth control that works between fertilization and implantation; birth control that has been used by women for decades,” said Angela Adkins, Legislative Director for the National Organization for Women’s Louisiana chapter.

These bills are part of a larger trend to chip away at abortion access, with the ultimate goal of banning abortion outright, no matter the risk to health of the mother, any fetal abnormalities or with exceptions in cases or rape or incest.

One bill that would mitigate some of this HB 520. Representative Jason Hughes’ bill would make the provision of emergency contraception available to survivors of sexual assault. By ensuring education, information and medically appropriate emergency care to victims of sexual assault, providers can reduce the trauma on survivors which could be compounded by being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

Representative Hughes said, “In light of the climate we have in Louisiana where some are trying to control women’s bodies, the least we can do is enact legislation that puts women in the best possible position–especially after a sexual assault–to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Survivors of sexual assault have already had control exerted over their bodies. We need to ensure they are given the tools to take back that control, and my bill to ensure hospitals provide survivors with emergency contraception, which will delay ovulation and hopefully prevent pregnancy after a rape, will do just that.”

His bill is in direct contrast to Representative Sharon Hewitts’ HB 388 which expands on current law on criminal abortion to include the sale or distribution of abortion causing drugs without a prescription from a Louisiana physician as well as increasing the penalties for chemical abortions that result in the death of pregnant women.

Medication abortion is safe, effective and popular – in fact, this method accounts for 54% of abortions, according to a February 2022 report by the Guttmacher Institute. Enforcement of the bill would be difficult, especially in light of the December 2021 decision by the FDA to make permanent what had been a temporary pandemic measure to allow abortion medication to be distributed by mail.

Every person should be able to make the best decision for themselves and their family about whether and when to have a child without shame, unnecessary restrictions or undue outside interference. Such decision are not going to be made any better, medically or morally, with the government dictating how that decision should be made.

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