Louisiana Senate passes bill that would triple waiting time for abortions


The Louisiana State Senate on Tuesday voted on a bill that would triple the waiting time for women seeking abortions, bringing the policy one step closer to law.

Sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, a Republican, House Bill 386 requires that women wait 72 hours between a state-mandated counseling session ahead of an abortion and the scheduled procedure. Current law says women must wait 24 hours.

The bill also requires a doctor perform an ultrasound so the woman may see the fetus on through images on the screen and hear the heartbeat. She is then to be offered an ultrasound photograph.

According to Deanna Wallace, legislative director for the group Louisiana Right to Life, it’s imperative women have a “reflection period” after counseling to decide if they’re making the right decision.

“Abortion is a life-changing and life-ending decision, and one that the [U.S.] Supreme Court recognizes many women come to regret,” Wallace said.

Hoffmann sees it as part of a bigger movement, calling it key for a state that’s been dubbed “the top pro-life state in America” many times over the past several years.

On Wednesday, however, 20 pro-choice advocacy groups, including the Louisiana National Organization for Women, said making women wait can be detrimental to their health, as it could also force a woman to have a surgical abortion rather than a medicated one. The wait could therefore increase cost.

The group pointed to research conducted by the University of California, which found that when a similar bill was passed in Utah, the wait time did little to change a woman's mind over whether or not to have an abortion.

The bill in Louisiana is among several that could restrict abortion services. Others would prohibit providers from receiving state funds for family planning services and ban the most common abortion method in the second trimester.

“When considered together, it is difficult to deny that lawmakers are strategically working to ensure that women in Louisiana will have no access to their constitutional right to have an abortion,” said Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana.

The bill passed the Senate 34-4 with minor amendments, and now is headed back to the House.

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