La. House Panel Advance Sex Education, Abortion Bills

April 11, 2014 — A Louisiana House panel on Wednesday advanced two measures, including a bill (HB 305) that would bar certain groups from distributing sex education materials in schools and another (HB 1262) that would require women to review written information before an abortion, the New Orleans Advocate reports (Shuler, New Orleans Advocate, 4/10).

Sex Education Bill

HB 305, approved by the state House Health and Welfare Committee, would bar employees or representatives of abortion providers and their affiliates from instructing, speaking or distributing information pertaining to reproductive health or family planning at public or charter schools.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the measure originally prohibited such individuals from addressing students on any subject. However, state Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R), the bill's sponsor, later offered an amendment that limited the prohibited topics to sex education.

During debate over the measure, state Rep. Katrina Jackson (D) discussed a pamphlet from a national Planned Parenthood website that details young people's rights not to disclose their HIV status to potential sex partners.

In response, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokesperson Reagan Carter said that she did not support the pamphlet and that it had not been distributed in the state (Lane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4/9). PPGC opposed the bill.

Mandatory Information Bill

The House committee also advanced HB 1262, which would require that women seeking abortions be given written materials on the potential psychological impact of the procedure, as well as information on human trafficking, abuse and coercion. The information also would list resources for women facing any of those situations.

The women would be required to receive the information at least 24 hours before an abortion.

Under current state law, women seeking abortion must be told there about physical risks of abortion, as well as alternatives to the procedure. Originally, the bill only included the information about supposed "increased risk of psychiatric and psychological harm" from an abortion, but state Rep. Barry Ivey (R) revised the measure in committee to add the information about trafficking.

Ivey said the bill "is not trying to tell them what to do but to provide tools so they can truly make informed decisions."

Sylvia Cochran, an administrator of abortion clinics located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, said that the bill is "unnecessary" because clinics "are already doing these things." She said, "We do not talk anybody into an abortion. ... We deal with patients on a physical as well as a psychological basis."

Cochran added that abortion patients are also already provided referral lists (New Orleans Advocate, 4/10).