Archive

La. Senate Panel Tables Measure Prohibiting Abortion Based on Fetus' Sex

May 28, 2015 — A bill (HB 701) that would ban abortions based on a fetus' sex is stalled in a Louisiana Senate judiciary committee following a 2-2 vote on Tuesday, AP/ABC News reports.

State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R), who sponsored the bill, said she is uncertain whether she will push for another hearing on the measure (Deslatte, AP/ABC News, 5/26).

Background

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.

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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/19).

Debate on the Measure

During the committee's hearing on the measure, Whitney acknowledged that there is no evidence such abortions are happening in the state, but she said the bill would help to make sure they do not start (Lane, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/26).

Meanwhile, Ellie Schilling, a reproductive rights attorney in the state, said the measure could have a "chilling effect" on abortion care (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 5/27). Schilling noted that the bill would "ope[n] up clinic staff and physicians to lawsuits in an unprecedented manner."

Further, Son Ah Yun, the national field director for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, said the bill "seeks to exploit an international problem to push a domestic agenda ... based on false stereotypes" about Asian Americans (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 5/26).