Bossier legislators support abortion restricting bill

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By Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

A proposal to ban abortions in Louisiana as early as the sixth week of pregnancy could soon be signed into law.

State Sen. John Milkovich, D-Keithville, introduced Senate Bill 184 back in April. If passed, it would ban an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. [Editors Note: As of Monday, May 27 the bill had yet to receive final approval in the Senate].

The legislation includes an exception from the abortion ban to prevent the pregnant woman’s death or “a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” – or if the pregnancy is deemed “medically futile.” But it does not include an exception for a pregnancy caused by rape or incest. 

A doctor who violates the prohibition under the bill could face a prison sentence of up to two years, along with revocation of medical license.

Local legislators who will have their ultimate say about SB184 with their votes, told the Press-Tribune they are in favor of the legislation.

Republican State Senator and Bossier City-based attorney, Ryan Gatti, says that SB184 brings laws in line with modern medicine.  

“Life ends when the heart stops beating, shouldn’t we recognize the heart beat as the beginning of life?” Gatti said. “I personally believe conception is the scientific beginning of life. I can not disregard the miraculous microscopic biological union of conception, even before implantation, that surpasses all understanding.”

Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, said his stance from before he was elected is Pro-Life and that hasn’t changed. 

“I’m Pro-Life. That has been my stance before I was elected, and now as I am elected and so forth,” Peacock said.

State Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, says that the vast majority of her district fully supports this measure. She and Rep. Valerie Hodges will present the bill on the House side.

“I along with the vast majority of District 9 fully support this measure. I will be presenting the bill along with Rep. Valerie Hodges on the House side. We honor all life,” Horton said.

State Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, said he hopes to see abortion outlawed at the federal level, but will do what he can in Baton Rouge.

“We would like for it to see that practice of abortion ended at some point. But as long as the supreme court recognizes as a human right, then were restricted from prohibiting abortion,” Crews admitted. “We are looking toward the future and if things change on the federal level, then hopefully we can do more things to restrict the practice here.”

Crews has also introduced a piece of legislation involving abortions and patient records. His House Bill 484 would lengthen the time that abortion clinics and doctors who perform the procedure must retain patient records, with detailed requirements and hefty penalties for violations.

Opponents said SB184 does not improve the health and well-being of women and families. Calling the proposal unconstitutional.

“Louisiana will likely again spend thousands of dollars defending clearly an unconstitutional bill. This will be nothing to protect women’s lives or lives of the children. It’s very disingenuous on the part of theses legislators to act as though this is about life whatsoever. You can only legislate legal safe abortions,” said Melissa Gibson, chapter president of NOW Shreveport-Bossier.

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee backed the bill without objection, sending to the Senate floor for debate. The House already has approved the proposal.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has indicated he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.