Rick Edmonds on adoption 040418

Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, waits while Marketa Garner Walters, secretary of state Department of Children & Family Services, fields questions on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, about an adoption bill in the House Health & Welfare committee.

Expectant mothers considering abortion will be given detailed information about how to give birth and put the child up for adoption under legislation that advanced to the full House on Wednesday.

House Bill 449 and House Bill 625 were a pair of adoption measures that breezed through House committees on Wednesday without attracting a single "no" vote. 

Both bills were sponsored by state Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge.

HB625, which was approved by the House Education Committee, allows women working as teachers to take 30 days off when they adopt a child. Biological parents can take off eight weeks for maternity leave after the birth of their child. The adoptive leave proposal tracks the language of the maternity leave law.

HB449 was part of a package of bills that made additions to anti-abortion laws that were considered by the House Health & Welfare Committee.

Louisiana already has among the nation’s most restrictive laws for women wanting to end their pregnancies surgically. The other bills were tweaks of the current body of laws. The most sweeping changes approved by the committee Wednesday were to a decade-old law that requires abortion providers give women considering the procedure a pamphlet that outlines options and includes pictures of the fetus at different levels of development. The literature, as well as the associated state website, includes adoptions but lacks details, said Edmonds, a minister.

HB449 would require the Louisiana Department of Health to create a separate page on the website that lists the public and private nonprofit adoption agencies along with a simple guide on how to confidentially explore the option of placing the baby up for adoption instead of aborting.

“It’ll provide a much higher level of information,” Edmonds said, adding that the bill also would create a commission to regularly publicize and update the website.

The current website has information on adoptions but it’s presented from the point of view of parents seeking a child to adopt, with very little guidance for a pregnant woman seeking to put her child up for adoption, said Dorinda Bordlee, the chief counsel for Bioethics Defense Fund in Metairie.

“It busts the myth that your only option is to put your child in the foster system,” Bordlee said.

Supporters from the Louisiana Right to Life group said adoption is a key option in their efforts to restrict abortions.

“I am thankful for the adoption option. The adoption option is why I’m here today,” David Scotton, an LSU law student from Metairie who testified before the committee. He was the subject of a Hollywood showcased documentary that premiered at the Governor’s Mansion last month. “I Lived on Parker Avenue” followed Scotton from Metairie to Indiana to meet the woman who gave birth to him and put him up for adoption in 1993. She was in an Indianapolis abortion clinic with the doctor ready to perform the procedure when she changed her mind. At home wondering what to do, friends and family of the birth mother and told her about a law firm that handles adoptions.

No opponents spoke at the Health & Welfare hearing and the head of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Robert Johnson, of Marksville, made the motion to report HB449 favorably to the full House.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.