A Senate committee Tuesday advanced legislation that would call for a statewide vote on abortion with the aim of keeping state judges from allowing abortions if Roe v Wade is overturned on the federal level.

If the 1973 decision that makes legal the procedure that terminates pregnancies overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court, the decision reverts back to the states.

State law already says that if given the choice by federal authorities, abortion would be illegal in Louisiana.

House Bill 425 would ask state voters to approve an abortion ban, which would preclude any courts from overturning the state law, said state Rep. Katrina Jackson, the Monroe Democrat who is sponsoring the measure.

HB425 was approved by Senate Judiciary A committee without objection. It now goes to the full Senate where it is expected to exceed the two-thirds majority needed.

A wording change Jackson applied to ensure voters aren’t confused that the vote is on exceptions like women who are raped or to save the life of the mother, means the legislation must return to the House for a final vote.

“We are not voting on whether abortion is legal,” Jackson said. “We are voting to say there is no right (to an abortion) in the Louisiana Constitution.”

“This is needed because the abortion industry would go into the Louisiana Supreme Court arguing that there is nothing about abortion in state Constitution,” said Dorinda C. Bordlee, senior counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund. “This very simple amendment closes the door to judicial activism.”

The Kansas Supreme Court two weeks ago found that abortions were legal in that state because it was not expressly forbidden in state law.

New Orleans attorney Ellie Schilling, who opposed the bill, said Louisiana already has some of the strictest restrictions to abortions in the country.

She is concerned that the bill would enshrine in the state Constitution that there is no right to abortions without exception. “This bill makes no provisions for rape, incest and life of mother,” she said.

“This might be the most significant and monumental piece of legislation that I will have the opportunity to vote for in this term,” said state Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, whose bill to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, often only six weeks into a pregnancy, overwhelming passed the Senate Monday.

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