Louisiana appears to be on the path of adopting another anti-abortion law — this one banning abortions based on sex.
The Louisiana House voted 81-2 for “Prenatal Non-discrimination Act” which is being pushed at the national and state level by anti-abortion interests.
Twenty-two representatives did not vote.
Rep. Lenar Whitney said the proposed law is aimed at stopping abortions performed because the unborn child is a girl instead of a boy.
She said more than 160 million girls are “missing” from society, primarily in Asian nations, because boys are the favored sex.
“There’s no evidence of this happening in the state of Louisiana,” Whitney said. But the Houma Republican added there are reports that “the practice has made its way” inside U.S. borders.
Louisiana already has about two dozen anti-abortion laws, giving it the ranking as the No. 1 pro-life state. The sex-selection abortion ban that’s already been enacted in other states would add to that, Whitney said.
Seven states — Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota — ban abortion in cases of sex selection at some point in pregnancy. Pennsylvania’s law has been on the books since 1982.
HB701 would ban the abortion if the physician knows the decision is based on sex. The measure also requires physicians to provide information about the sex of the fetus, if it can be determined, prior to an abortion being performed.
It includes the potential for a civil lawsuit against the physician who performs the abortion in violation of the ban.
The physician would be exposed to treble damages and punitive damages of $10,000. In addition, the offender would be exposed to fines ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 or more for third and succeeding violations.
Few Louisiana legislators have openly opposed anti-abortion bills during recent years. But Whitney ran into a series of questions.
Rep. Walt Leger III, for instance, questioned the bill’s wording, noting that it used state’s attorney rather than district attorney, as prosecutors are called in Louisiana. The penalty provisions are poorly drafted and “potentially opens the door to a lot of litigation,” he added.
The New Orleans Democrat also questioned the $10,000 cap on punitive damages. He also wondered how “actual damage” could be assessed on the loss of an unborn child.
“We are voting for a bill protecting the life of the unborn. The bill needs to be improved,” Leger said. He ended up voting for the measure.
Leger also warned about “disparaging” Asian-Americans with implications that sex selection is a practice among them as well.
No one spoke in opposition to the measure.
But soon after its passage, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum decried the move.
“The bill ... is based on false stereotypes of Asian-Americans rather than facts and opens the door to additional barriers to women’s access to health. Unlike other state versions of this bill, Louisiana’s ban would mandate that all women seeking abortion who are more than 10 weeks pregnant be told the sex of the fetus.”
According to the group, more than 85,000 Asian-Americans live in Louisiana.
The bill now heads to the Senate for debate.