Bill to make abortion a homicide advances in Louisiana

Mid-South

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A Louisiana House committee advanced a bill that would classify abortions as homicide Wednesday.

The recent leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion by Politico shows judges have provisionally voted to overturn the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade. Even with that decision looming, Republican State Rep. Danny McCormick’s bill would defy the court immediately and block any future court protections for abortion from being recognized in Louisiana.

“The taking of a life is murder, and it is illegal. Louisiana law currently fails to provide equal protection for human life. Persons are deemed unworthy of legal protection for no other reason than they are not yet born,” McCormick said.

Proponents of the bill said the legislature can stand up to the court if they don’t agree with their stance – but that violates the supremacy clause, which says federal law takes precedence over state law.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-California) said on NewsNation’s Rush Hour that she’s not surprised and expects this type of criminalization of abortion to be introduced in conservative states nationwide.

“One in four American women have had an abortion. Each of these states are going to try and outdo each other in terms of being anti-abortion,” Chu said Friday.

Louisiana already has trigger laws to ban abortion statewide should Roe v. Wade be overturned. HB813 looks to take things a step further to classify a person as being in existence the moment an egg is fertilized. It would provide the unborn fetus the same protections as someone who has been born and classify abortion as a homicide. 

“This is a bill to immediately end abortion in the state of Louisiana. No compromises, no more waiting,” Pastor Brian Gunter said.

Some fear this could lead to charges against women for homicide or battery in cases of miscarriage or infertility treatments like in vitro fertilization. In IVF treatments, an egg is taken from the woman and fertilized with sperm in a lab dish by doctors. Then the egg is placed back into the uterus in hopes of beginning a pregnancy. One attorney shared her struggle with the first fertilized egg not taking and not becoming a valid pregnancy at a committee hearing.

“This bill would give those cells personhood. Such that anything that happens to them after could give rise to criminal prosecution. This criminalizes IVF,” said Sarah Omojola, a New Orleans attorney.

“We can go too far and know that a bill is going to be stricken by the courts… or we can try to find something that moderates that in such that maybe something that is enforceable,” Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville, said.

Rep. Joe Marino suggested taking the emotion of the topic out and considering the legality of what the bill proposes. He raised the issue of the bill violating the supremacy clause and emphasized that many on the committee are anti-abortion.

Some also said the bill could have repercussions for use of birth control since it slows down ovulation to prevent fertilization or the bill could prevent women from getting life-saving care if it jeopardizes a fetus.

Chu wants Congress to greenlight her Women’s Health Protection Act to ensure abortion access nationwide but without a Democratic majority in the Senate, she knows this can be difficult. That’s why, according to Chu, the power is ultimately in the hands of the voters.

“We have to make sure that everybody is engaged in terms of who they elect on local, state and federal levels,” Chu said.

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