La. Abortion Laws Take Effect

August 2, 2012 — Two laws took effect on Aug. 1 that place further restrictions on abortion care in Louisiana, WRKF reports.

The first law (Act 738) prohibits abortion beyond 20 weeks after fertilization (Westerman, WRKF, 8/1). The measure includes exceptions to protect the woman's life and when a pregnancy is considered "medically futile" because the infant will not survive after birth. The bill also includes a very narrow health exception.

The legislation, introduced by Senate President John Alario (R), is based on the disputed claim that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Physicians convicted of violating the law's provisions could face fines and up to two years in prison (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/4).

The second law (Act 685) modifies a statute requiring women seeking abortion care to undergo an ultrasound. Under the new law, women must listen to a description of the image and be given the option to view it and listen to the fetal heartbeat (WRKF, 8/1).

The law also expands the waiting period from when a woman receives the ultrasound until when she may obtain an abortion from two hours to 24 hours (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/4).