State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, opened what he called “Pro-Life Day” with a bill pushed by the governor that could be used to defund Planned Parenthood, if the clinic under construction in New Orleans ever performs abortions.
Chief of Staff Ben Nevers testified in favor of House Bill 606, which would prohibit any organization that performs abortions from receiving state funds, unless the entity only occasionally performs them in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.
Not a single vote was cast against this or three other bills considered by the Louisiana House Committee on Health & Welfare on Wednesday that further restrict the procedure that ends pregnancies. All four measures now go to the full House and if approved there pass to the state Senate for consideration.
As a state senator, Nevers sponsored several bills that led Louisiana to be considered the most anti-abortion state in the nation. Now he is chief adviser to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who also is an ardent opponent of abortion.
Nevers said HB606 would apply to any abortion provider and was not specifically aimed at Planned Parenthood. He pointed out that Planned Parenthood is not mentioned in the bill.
But the members of the House Health & Welfare Committee focused on little else.
Ten states have defunded Planned Parenthood following the release of videos last summer by Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, which purported to show officials wanting to sell baby parts.
Raegan Carter, senior director of public affairs and government relations for Planned Parenthood Gulf South, pointed out repeatedly that the videos were misleading, highly edited, deemed fake and the filmmakers were indicted in Texas.
She also pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans accept Medicaid reimbursement for health care services, such as family planning, contraceptives and OB-GYN treatments.
But Medicaid doesn’t pay for abortions.
Currently, Planned Parenthood does not provide abortions in Louisiana, though the group does in other states.
Carter was questioned closely on whether a Planned Parenthood facility being built on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans would provide services that would terminate pregnancies.
“That is something being discussed,” Carter said, adding that the organization applied for a license to provide abortions in New Orleans, was denied by the state and hasn’t decided whether to reapply.
The other anti-abortion measures that passed the House committee were:
- House Bill 815 would create criminal penalties for anyone who sells or donates the intact body or organs or cells of a human embryo or fetus whose death was caused by abortion.
- House Bill 1019 would make it illegal to perform an abortion because the unborn child had been diagnosed with a genetic abnormality.
- House Bill 1081 would ban the practice of partial birth abortions, that is to purposely dismember a living unborn child and extract him or her one piece at a time from the uterus.
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