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No more murder fees for Louisiana women on abortion bills

NEW ORLEANS –

The sponsor of a bill that could have charged Louisiana women with murder for having an abortion abruptly withdrew from debate on Thursday night after members of the US House of Representatives voted 65-26 to fix it. completely changed the law, eliminating criminal penalties.

The controversial bill would risk more against abortion than the efforts of legislators in any other state. It would subject women who end their pregnancies to murder charges.

“This is a tough political question, but we all know it’s actually very simple. Abortion is murder,” said Representative Danny McCormick, a Republican from Oil City. at the beginning of the debate. He noted that a majority of Louisiana lawmakers in the Republican Legislature strongly say they are anti-abortion, and briefly criticized anti-abortionists who also oppose his bill. “We’re floundering and trying to explain it.”

But McCormick’s measure has drawn growing opposition from many staunchly anti-abortionists. Governor John Bel Edwards, an anti-abortion Democrat, said he would veto it. Right to Life Louisiana, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Commission on the Right to Life are among the prominent opponents of this measure.

Edwards, a devout Catholic, declared the prosecution of women for abortions “absurd”.

McCormick also strongly disagrees when saying that a woman who has an abortion should be in the same legal position as a woman who takes the life of a child after giving birth. “When I’m equally defending the unborn, that’s a possibility,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday night.

Supporters of the bill were adamant. Many of them gathered at the US Capitol to pray and show support. As the group watched from the balcony of the House as the bill was drawn, one shouted “Shame”.

The House of Representatives has yet to begin debating the controversial law as the building was temporarily evacuated on Thursday after a speaker interrupted proceedings and said an unidentified package was unclaimed. was found in the capital’s Memorial Hall – the gathering area between the Chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

It comes on a day when legislation is moving slowly as lawmakers try to find a compromise on McCormick’s bill. The House of Representatives recessed for more than an hour while lawmakers split into groups behind closed doors to discuss the legislation.

Pending at the time was an amendment by Representative Alan Seabaugh. The Shreveport Republican Party is a staunch force against abortion. But his amendment overhauled McCormick’s bill, which stated that women would not face criminal penalties for having an abortion. It also allows abortion to save a pregnant woman’s life. And it removed language from McCormick’s original bill that seemed to make the birth control pill and at least some aspects of in vitro fertilization illegal.

The amendment also removed language from McCormick’s bill that was widely considered blatantly unconstitutional – declaring that any federal law, regulation, or court ruling authorizing abortion is void and unconstitutional. Any judge who blocks enforcement of the measure’s provisions could be impeached.

“We cannot give ourselves the power to order the courts to rule on future unconstitutional acts,” Seabaugh argues.

The amendment reflects a pending Senate bill to tighten abortion laws in Louisiana that would go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. McCormick, as a donor, is unlikely to push it forward in the House but the Senate version could still progress.

McCormick’s bill, introduced in March, has drawn close scrutiny due to a leak last week of draft US Supreme Court views suggesting the high court is preparing to overturn. decisions to uphold the constitutional right to abortion.

There is no sign that lawmakers in other states are adopting similar legislation. In Idaho, Republican Representative Heather Scott has proposed prosecuting women who have abortions, but a committee chair said Friday he would not allow it. “There are still reasonable people in the Legislature who make sure that extreme bills like that don’t go to hearings,” said Representative Brent Crane.

Louisiana already has a law on books criminalizing abortion, including a “trigger law” that guarantees it will be a crime if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe vs. Wade, in 1973 established the right to abortion. The laws appear to exempt women from prosecution, although some abortion rights advocates have suggested they need to be tightened.

McCormick has said that existing laws are not sufficient to provide fetuses with equal protection under the law.

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Associated Press journalist Holly Ramer contributed to this report from Concord, New Hampshire.

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