Friday, March 10, 2006
Apparently, I spoke too soon
La. lawmaker's anti-abortion bill less strict that S. Dakota
By DOUG SIMPSON
Associated Press Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Inspired by recent changes on the U.S. Supreme Court, a Republican lawmaker has filed legislation that would make abortion illegal except to save the mother's life or in rape and incest cases.
Rep. Tim Burns said President Bush's two appointments to the Supreme Court convinced him that now is an opportune time to pass legislation toughening Louisiana's abortion laws and give the high court a chance to overturn or challenge parts of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling establishing a right to an abortion.
Burns' measure, which will be debated in a legislative session that begins March 27, is less strict than a South Dakota law recently passed that would only allow abortion to save the mother's life -- no exceptions for rape or incest cases.
Abortion would be allowed under Burns' bill when the mother's life is in danger and in rape and incest cases within 13 weeks of conception. Doctors found guilty of performing abortions in other situations would face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $100,000.
Burns said he wanted to pass anti-abortion legislation less restrictive than South Dakota's new law to give the Supreme Court different options for handling a possible challenge of Roe v. Wade. He said it would be a win for anti-abortion advocates if the high court upheld either type of law.
"I think, in all practical purposes, it would be a win in the pro-life area, a huge pro-life advance," said Burns, R-Mandeville.
In 1991, the Legislature passed a bill similar to Burns' -- overriding then-Gov. Buddy Roemer's veto -- but it was struck down in the courts. A federal district judge ruled it unconstitutional, a finding later upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A pro-choice lawyer involved in that and other abortion battles in Louisiana said Burns bill would still have trouble getting through the Supreme Court. William Rittenberg, who fought the 1991 law, said the appointment of Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts still leaves the high court with a majority of five members who have voted in support of Roe v. Wade.
Rittenberg said he expected the Legislature to pass the bill, but questioned why Burns didn't let the South Dakota bill make its way through the legal system first. He said that would save Louisiana the legal bills when pro-choice groups file lawsuits against the state to challenge Burns' measure.
"Louisiana is broke now, because of Katrina and Rita," Rittenberg said. "But the Legislature doesn't seem to care how much it costs to 'get' Roe v. Wade. Why does one of the poorer states in the country have to foot the bill?"
Louisiana lawmakers already have placed language in the law that explains the state only allows abortion procedures because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they are legal. The language says if the Supreme Court ever reverses its stance, -- then the former policy of this State to prohibit abortions shall be enforced.
On the Net:
House Bill 132 can be viewed at http://legis.state.la.us/
I posted the whole article because it's not up anywhere yet. I grabbed it off the wire at work this morning. *sigh* And he's right, the Legislature will probably pass this thing. Blanco will probably veto it, since she's (I believe) pro-choice. Which doesn't mean they won't override her. Unless, of course, someone can talk some sense into these idiots. Time to start making some phone calls and sending emails/letters to my representative.
I'm sure these people think the exceptions for rape and incest make them such wonderful fellows. Right. Gah. I'm so mad right now I can't think. I'm not the slightest bit surprised, but still....