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La. House Passes Bill That Would Ban Abortion Based on Sex of Fetus

La. House Passes Bill That Would Ban Abortion Based on Sex of Fetus

May 15, 2015 — The Louisiana House on Thursday voted 81-2 to pass a bill (HB 701) that would ban abortions based on a fetus' sex, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 5/15). If enacted, Louisiana would join eight other states that have adopted similar bans: Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota (Lane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/15).

Bill Details

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.

The bill's language would also apply 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.

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. 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.

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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/8).

Comments

State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R) said that while "[t]here's no evidence" of abortions being based on a fetus' sex "happening in the state of Louisiana," she had heard reports that "the practice has made its way" into the U.S.

However, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum said the legislation "is based on false stereotypes of Asian-Americans rather than facts and opens the door to additional barriers to women's access to health." The group added, "Unlike other state versions of this bill, Louisiana's ban would mandate that all women seeking abortion who are more than 10 weeks pregnant be told the sex of the fetus" (Baton Rouge Advocate, 5/15).

Meanwhile, state House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger (D) voted for the bill but said it "is severely flawed" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/15). He said that the bill's penalty provisions were poorly worded and "potentially opens the door to a lot of litigation" (Baton Rouge Advocate, 5/15). He also said that the provision requiring abortion providers to tell women a fetus' sex when possible also would lead to lawsuits (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/15).