United States: Louisiana wants to qualify abortions as homicides

LLouisiana is on the way to becoming the first American state to completely ban voluntary abortions. According to the American daily The Washington Post, the Louisiana parliamentarians should vote by next May 12 on a law making it possible to launch criminal proceedings against women who have chosen an abortion. Led by a Democratic governor, this southern state would therefore go much further than the Republicans by now attacking more only the people and structures accompanying pregnant women and who wish to end their pregnancy.

The revelation of this bill comes just days after a Supreme Court draft that could challenge the right to abortion in the United States was leaked to the press. Indeed, according to Politico, the supreme justices would be on the point of annulling the stop “Roe v. Wade”, which enshrines this right in American case law. A project described as “authentic” by the chief justice, although the decision is not yet official.

In Louisiana, the bill revealed by The Washington Post aims to give constitutional rights to everyone “from the moment of fertilization”. A point that would allow state prosecutors to criminally prosecute women who have chosen to terminate their pregnancy.

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Towards increasingly strict laws

The bill is expected to pass both Louisiana legislatures by May 12. Currently, these two institutions are led by Republicans. At the same time, the governor, although a Democrat, is a staunch opponent of abortion rights. Contrary to his party, John Bel Edwards has already signed restrictive laws. In May 2019, it banned abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. In fact, this amounts to a ban on abortion beyond six weeks, a period often far too short. Although the law is not applicable when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, it does concern cases of rape and incest.

The announced deletion of the “Roe v. Wade” could also be the trigger for increasingly violent legislation against women, say the defenders of this right. “What this bill does is specifically change the felony of homicide and the felony of assault to allow the state to charge people, including the pregnant mother, at any stage of fertilization,” says Ellie Schilling, an abortion lawyer.

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Associations for the defense of this right, protected since 1973 in the United States, fear that the next laws will also attack medical abortions. Indeed, many opponents of this technique want to toughen the penalties. Today, in Louisiana, selling an abortion pill exposes you to a $1,000 fine. “Which is terribly insufficient,” asserts one of the authors of the bill, Pastor Brian Gunter, a strong opponent of the right to abortion.

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