Legislators pushing for a stricter anti-abortion law in Louisiana have lost the support of a major lobbying group because the bill would permit homicide charges against those who end pregnancies.
The group said it advocates only for criminal charges against individuals who perform abortions or provide abortion medication. Plus, a 2006 state law would make abortion illegal if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, making the bill unnecessary, according to the statement.
The action comes as multiple states hastily re-evaluate their abortion laws ahead of the high court’s next abortion ruling. Florida and Arizona enacted new laws banning abortion after 15 weeks, while some Democratic Party-led legislatures are considering measures to help defray costs for women from other states.
In the Louisiana debate, the anti-abortion group and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana now are on the same side, opposing the legislation in its committee-approved form.
“Women & girls who have abortions in Louisiana, & those who assist them, could be charged with murder,” the state ACLU said in a tweet. “This bill is blatantly unconstitutional.”
Abortion rights advocates also have criticized the bill for potentially criminalizing in vitro fertilization because of language conveying legal “personhood” from the moment of conception.
According to the Lafayette, La., Daily Advertiser, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Danny McCormick (R), responded to the opposition by saying, “Our plan is to move forward with this bill to give the unborn the same protections as the born. We knew it would upset the establishment.”
McCormick’s office on Monday referred questions to the Texas-based Foundation to Abolish Abortion, which helped draft the bill.
“Both the U.S. and Louisiana constitutions require equal protection under the law for all persons,” the group’s president, Bradley Pierce, said in an email. “This bill simply acts consistently with the belief that a fetus is a person from conception. The mother and anyone else involved with an abortion would be entitled to all due process protections: the bill explicitly does not alter any existing presumption, defense, justification, immunity, or clemency that may apply to a case of homicide.”
In populous Orleans Parish, District Attorney Jason Rogers Williams has pledged not to prosecute women if that bill, which is scheduled for a floor debate Thursday in the Louisiana House, becomes law.
The bill is “poorly written, demonstrates complete disregard for the long-established constitutional tenets of our democracy, and is a cruel and irresponsible stripping away of a woman’s agency,” he said in a letter to New Orleans city council members.
“I cannot and will not shift the priority from tackling shootings, rapes and carjackings to investigating the choices women make with regard to their own bodies,” he said.
The bill also includes language authorizing impeachment or removal of state judges who attempt to stay or overrule any of its provisions.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A draft opinion in that case, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and leaked May 2, would overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the seminal cases establishing a constitutional right to end a pregnancy before viability.