May 8, 2015 — Louisiana's House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday unanimously voted to advance legislation (HB 701) that would ban abortions based on a fetus' sex, the AP/Belleville News-Democrat reports.
The measure now heads to the full state House for consideration. If enacted, Louisiana would join seven other states identified by the Guttmacher Institute as having similar bans, including Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
The bill would allow the man involved in the pregnancy or the parent of either the woman or man involved in the pregnancy to sue the physician who performed the abortion if the parties believe it was based on the sex of the fetus (Deslatte, AP/Belleville News-Democrat, 5/6).
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the bill's language also applies to individuals who help a physician perform such an abortion. Individuals found in violation of the bill would be fined $10,000 for an initial offense, $50,000 for a second offense, $100,000 for a third offense and more than $100,000 for any subsequent offenses (Lane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/6).
In addition, the bill would allow the state, individuals involved in the pregnancy and their various relatives -- as well as a health care provider of a woman who sought or obtained such an abortion -- to seek an injunction against any physician who performs an abortion based on the fetus' sex (AP/Belleville News-Democrat, 5/6). It would also allow relatives of those involved in the pregnancy to file for an injunction to stop an abortion if they believe it is being sought based on the sex of the fetus (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/6).
Further, the measure would require abortion providers to tell women a fetus' sex if it can be determined at the beginning of the state's 24-hour mandatory delay period. Under the bill, physicians would be required to attempt to determine a fetus' sex if the woman has been pregnant for at least 10 weeks (AP/Belleville News-Democrat, 5/6).
According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the legislation was modeled after a bill drafted by National Right to Life (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/6).
State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R) said the bill would help prevent discrimination based on sex. However, according to the AP/Times-Democrat, Whitney did not provide any specific examples of such abortions occurring in the U.S. (AP/Belleville News-Democrat, 5/6).
Separately, Raegan Carter, senior director of external services for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said the measure could jeopardize patients' confidentiality.
Ellie Schilling, a reproductive rights attorney based in New Orleans, added that the bill "is meant to have a chilling [e]ffect on physicians and staff members (by) putting this potential liability out there" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/6).