The Louisiana Senate advanced Monday one of the strictest bans on abortion in the nation – at roughly six weeks when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Senate Bill 184 by state Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, passed on a 31-5 vote. If it passes, the law would go into effect if the Mississippi law is upheld by the courts. The legislation now heads to the House for consideration.
Similar proposals have been introduced by some of the country’s most anti-abortion Legislatures, though court challenges have held them up elsewhere. Lawmakers in committee added a “trigger” provision that made the bill rely on the Mississippi law passing court challenges before going into effect. That amendment, backed by Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office, was aimed at preventing Louisiana from getting into prolonged and costly litigation.
The Senate also made a change to SB184 to require an ultrasound to be performed to determine whether a fetal heartbeat is present.
Opponents of the bill have argued six weeks if before many women know they are pregnant, and say the proposal is unconstitutional.
Lawmakers on a Senate Committee approved exclusions from the bill for victims of rape and incest, but minutes after they added the amendment, a representative from Louisiana Right to Life convinced them to reverse course by saying the group was against the exclusion.
Michelle Erenberg, the executive director of Lift Louisiana, which opposes the bill, said it is aimed at "banning abortion."
"(T)his proposal shows that the ... Legislature will stop at nothing to restrict women’s rights," Erenberg said in a statement. "They should stop wasting time and money passing blatantly unconstitutional bills, and instead focus on legislation that would really help women and families like paid family leave and raising the minimum wage.”
Voting to outlaw abortions once fetus heartbeat detected (31): President Alario, Sens. Allain, Appel, Barrow, Boudreaux, Chabert, Claitor, Cortez, Donahue, Erdey, Fannin, Gatti, Hensgens, Hewitt, Johns, LaFleur, Lambert, Long, Martiny, Milkovich, Mills, Mizell, Morrish, Peacock, Riser, J. Smith, Tarver, Thompson, Walsworth, Ward and White.
Voting against SB184 (5): Sens. Bishop, Carter, Colomb, Morrell and Peterson.
Not Voting (3): Sens. Luneau, Price, and G. Smith.