Louisiana lawmakers back out of classifying abortion as homicide

By Veronica Stracqualursi, Maria Cartaya and Jamiel Lynch, CNN

On Thursday, Louisiana House lawmakers slashed a controversial bill that included language aimed at classifying abortions as homicide and potentially allowing women to face criminal charges for terminating their pregnancies.

House Bill 813, which was introduced by Republican State Rep. Danny McCormick, would have redefined a person to include an unborn child from the “time of fertilization.” The proposal has drawn widespread condemnation, including from state anti-abortion groups such as Louisiana Right to Life, as it is their “longstanding policy that women vulnerable to abortion should not not be treated as criminals”.

An amendment introduced Thursday by Republican State Rep. Alan Seabaugh removed wording from McCormick’s bill and replaced it with language similar to another bill, Senate Bill 342, which has was passed by the state senate last week.

The amendment passed the State House in a 65-26 vote, rendering the House bill effectively dead, Seabaugh said. The Senate version will be heard by a House committee next week, he added.

The bill as amended would not ban contraception, criminalize any aspect of in vitro fertilization or apply any criminal penalties to pregnant women.

Speaking on the House floor, Seabaugh had argued that the bill as originally introduced had a ‘number of problems’ and noted the Supreme Court’s draft opinion that was reported last week. by Politico and which would overthrow Roe v. Wade.

“We are on the verge of winning the biggest pro-life victory in this country in 50 years. We should celebrate together, embrace each other as brothers in Christ,” he said. “We shouldn’t be at each other’s throats over a bill that is blatantly unconstitutional, criminalizes women, won’t prevent a single abortion and, as far as I know, was only presented to give a platform to a few misguided people.”

When the bill passed the committee in a 7-2 vote last week, state anti-abortion groups voiced their opposition, including Louisiana Right to Life, which said the legislation was ” incompatible with its mission to protect mothers and babies”. And on Thursday, leading national anti-abortion groups penned an open letter urging states to reject legislation that would criminalize women for having abortions.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a rare anti-abortion Democrat, also spoke out against the bill this week, calling it “radical.”

“In addition to the fact that this legislation is patently unconstitutional, this bill would criminalize the use of certain types of contraception, as well as certain parts of the process of in vitro fertilization, and may even constitute a barrier to life-saving medical treatment. a woman who miscarries,” Edwards said in a statement. “To suggest that a woman would be jailed for an abortion is simply absurd.”

After Thursday’s vote, Louisiana Right to Life said it does not expect the legislature to consider HB 813 any further until this session.

“Now that HB 813 is behind us, we look forward to resuming our work preparing for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and securing additional resources for abortion alternatives in Louisiana,” said Benjamin Clapper, group executive director. Press release.

Louisiana is one of several states that has implemented a so-called induction ban, which would prohibit a medical provider from performing an abortion procedure or providing medication intended to induce an abortion in the case where Roe v. Wade would be canceled.

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CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.