The Louisiana House of Representatives last week summarily passed House Bill 388, aka the "Unsafe Abortion Protection Act." The measure sailed through the House on a vote of 85-6, with no discussion (see Jeremy Alford's column, p. 13).
The bill, authored by state Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, and heavily supported by Gov. Bobby Jindal and bipartisan lawmakers, requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Jackson said her bill was about protecting women's health, but pro-choice groups decried it and pro-life groups applauded the vote.
"The intent of this legislation is to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, plain and simple," Melissa Flournoy, president of Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast, said in a statement. Benjamin Clapper of Louisiana Right to Life said, "This piece of common-sense legislation will ensure that women who may experience complications from a surgical or drug-induced abortion receive the best treatment available."
All six of the dissenting votes on Jackson's bill were cast by Democrats, including two from New Orleans: Rep. Jared Brossett and Rep. Helena Moreno. Those from Orleans Parish voting for the measure were Rep. Jeffery Arnold, a Democrat, and Republicans Ray Garofalo, Christopher Leopold and Nick Lorusso.
Fourteen representatives were marked absent from the vote, including New Orleans-area Reps. Neil Abramson, Austin Badon, Wesley Bishop and Walt Leger III.