Louisiana Right to Life opposes bill that could charge women who have abortion with murder
Louisiana's leading anti-abortion advocate is opposing a bill that could charge a pregnant mother with murder for having an abortion.
Louisiana Right to Life said House Bill 813 by Republican Oil City Rep. Danny McCormick is unnecessary and contradicts its goal to protect pregnant mothers.
"Our position has always been women should not be treated as criminals," said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, in an interview with USA Today Network. "We believe Louisiana is already prepared to protect every baby from abortion if the Supreme Court overturns (Roe v. Wade)."
Last week the Louisiana House Criminal Justice Committee voted 7-2 to advance McCormick's bill in which the mother or those assisting her in terminating the pregnancy can be charged with homicide.
McCormick's bill comes as the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade that guarantees abortion rights as soon as June, according to an opinion leaked from the high court this week.
"We can't wait on the Supreme Court," McCormick said during the hearing.
But Louisiana passed a "trigger law" in 2006 that would automatically make abortion illegal in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That law doesn't criminalize the pregnant woman who has an abortion.
In a press release late Friday, Louisiana Right to Life says it "has always protected both babies and mothers from the violence and exploitation of abortion."
"Our longstanding policy is that abortion-vulnerable women should not be treated as criminals," the press release said. "Instead, we should hold accountable the individuals performing the abortion or selling or providing the chemical abortion drugs. (House Bill 813), the Abolition of Abortion in Louisiana Act, is not consistent with this policy of Louisiana Right to Life.
"Additionally, Louisiana law through our 2006 Human Life Protection Act, is clear that babies will be protected from the violence of abortion when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Louisiana does not need HB 813 to protect babies from abortion.
"Because HB 813 does not exempt women from criminalization and is unnecessary to protect the life of babies from abortion, Louisiana Right to Life does not support HB 813."
Clapper told USA Today Network: "Louisiana already has in place what it needs to save babies from abortion."
McCormick dismissed Louisiana Right to Life's concerns, saying, "If abortion is murder we have to call it that. Our plan is to move forward with this bill to give the unborn the same protections as the born. We knew it would upset the establishment."
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1