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Trio of La. Bills Restricts Sex Education, End-of-Life Care, Abortion Rights

Trio of La. Bills Restricts Sex Education, End-of-Life Care, Abortion Rights

May 28, 2014 — The Louisiana Senate in a 31-5 vote on Tuesday passed a bill (HB 305) that would prohibit people who work for abortion providers from distributing health education materials in schools, as well as two other bills restricting women's rights, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (DeSlatte, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).

Specifically, HB 305 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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/11). The bill, which the state House already approved, now proceeds to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is expected to sign it.

Supporters of the measure argued that it would prevent people with a financial interest in promoting abortion from speaking in schools. State Sen. Ben Nevers (D) said, "I think this bill just makes sure our children are protected."

Meanwhile, opponents said it is an attack on Planned Parenthood and that no other groups are prevented under state law from speaking at public schools. The bill would prevent teaching of medically accurate sex education lessons, they argued. State Sen. Karen Carter (D) said, "Teens need to know how to make responsible decisions and stay healthy," adding, "What this bill is doing is taking one of the pre-eminent organizations in this country out of the classroom."

Mandatory Counseling Measure

The state Senate voted 30-4 to pass another measure (HB 1262) that would require women seeking abortions to be given written materials on the potential impact of the procedure, as well as information on human trafficking, abuse and the illegality of coerced abortion (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27). The information also would list resources for women facing any of those situations (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/11). Abortion providers would have to distribute the information at the start of the state's 24-hour mandatory delay before a woman can receive an abortion.

The measure now returns to the state House for a final vote.

Measure Requiring Care for Brain-Dead Pregnant Women

The state Senate also approved in a 36-2 vote a bill (HB 348) that would require health care providers to maintain medical care for pregnant women who are brain dead until birth if an obstetrician determines that a woman's body "can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child."

The chamber approved new language in a 20-18 vote that would permit a woman's spouse, children, parents or siblings to make the final decision.

Nevers argued against the change, saying that physicians should do everything possible to "protect that unborn child."

However, state Sen. J.P. Morrell (D) said, "What you're talking about is having the government decide what happens to your loved one if [she is] on life support. ... That should be terrifying to people."

The measure now returns to the state House for consideration (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/27).