Louisiana’s Edwards signs bill to ban abortion if U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe decision

(The Center Square) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed legislation to ban abortion in Louisiana if federal precedent is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, one of dozens of bills from the 2022 legislative session recently inked into law.

Edwards announced on Tuesday he signed Senate Bill 342, sponsored by Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, to strengthen a 2006 “trigger law” that goes into effect upon the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The bill exempts pregnant women from prosecution but increases penalties in the 2006 law to a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison for medical professionals who terminate pregnancies, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

“My position on abortion has been unwavering. I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact. This does not belie my belief that there should be an exception to the prohibition on abortion for victims of rape and incest,” said Edwards, a Catholic.

“However, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would not accomplish that end. In fact, vetoing Senate Bill 342 would leave fewer exceptions in place than if the bill becomes law and would further confuse whether pregnancy begins at fertilization or implantation. For these reasons, I have signed Senate Bill 342 into law.”

In his signing letter, Edwards noted that the bill expands exceptions to the 2006 law to include medical procedures performed after a pregnant woman miscarries, removal of an ectopic pregnancy, and medical procedures to remove an unborn child that will not survive after birth.

“Although Senate Bill 342 did not add rape and incest to the two existing exceptions (in the 2006 law, which include to save the life of the mother or when medical treatment results in an unintentional termination), it did clarify that pregnancy and the life of an unborn child begin at implantation, rather than at fertilization under the law as enacted in 2006, and clearly allows for emergency contraception to be administered to victims of rape and incest prior to when a pregnancy can be clinically diagnosed,” he wrote.

Other bills recently approved by Edwards include:

Senate Bill 388, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, to outlaw the sale abortion-inducing drugs by out-of-state prescribers, essentially banning abortion by mail. The law provides for five to 10 years of prison and/or a $10,000 to $75,000 fine. The penalty increases if the pregnant woman is a minor to 15 to 50 years in prison and/or a $15,000 to $100,000 fine.

Senate Bill 259, also sponsored by Hewitt, known as the “Public Benefit Integrity Law” to require state agencies that administer public benefits to annually report to the Legislature regarding policies and processes for identifying and eliminating fraud, waste and abuse in certain government-funded programs.

Senate Bill 104, sponsored by Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, to require outpatient abortion facilities to permit patients unimpeded, private and uncensored communications with persons by telephone. The bill prohibits abortion providers from requiring patients forfeit their mobile phones as a condition of receiving services.

Senate Bill 45, sponsored by Sen. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, to require public schools to adopt policies regarding the installation of cameras in certain special education classrooms.

House Bill 1021, sponsored by Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Jonesboro, to allow schools to rehire retired teachers without a reduction in the person’s retirement benefits. The bill is intended to help address a teacher shortage in Louisiana.

More information on dozens of bills from the 2022 legislative session approved and vetoed by Edwards is available on the governor’s website.