Women in Louisiana would have to wait 72 hours to get an abortion under a proposal that is advancing at the Capitol.
The House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday quickly passed House Bill 386, which would make Louisiana among the states with the longest abortion waiting periods. The measure now goes to the full House for consideration. It would also require Senate approval.
“This decision is a lifetime decision,” said Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe. “It impacts you for the rest of your life, so it’s not much to ask to wait three days.”
Recent efforts to restrict abortion have won broad support in the Louisiana Capitol.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month blocked a 2014 Louisiana law that sought to require abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That law was expected to force all but one of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down.
During Wednesday’s hearing on the 72-hour wait, legislators openly spoke of hoping to end abortion.
Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, said it’s about putting “life” as the Legislature’s top priority. “Until we get rid of all the abortion clinics they’ll continue, but that’s another day,” she said.
Louisiana already requires women wait 24 hours before an abortion. Tripling the waiting period would put Louisiana with Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Dakota and Utah as having the longest mandatory delays for the period between when a woman first consults with a doctor and the abortion is performed.
A recent University of California, San Francisco study on the impact of Utah’s law found that the longer waiting period had little impact on the decision to obtain an abortion, and most women followed through with their initial plans.
Sancha N. Smith, of the anti-abortion rights group Concerned Women for America, testified Wednesday that she had an abortion years ago and wishes she would have been required to wait.
“Maybe another plan could have come to fruition. I’ll never know,” she said. “One day is not enough to make such a life-changing decision.”
Abortion rights groups oppose the mandatory waiting periods and argue such restrictions create hurdles that disproportionately affect poor women and those from rural areas.
The 72-hour bill, which is authored by Health and Welfare Chairman Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would not apply to women who live 150 miles from the nearest clinic.