A Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday that would make Louisiana among the toughest places in the nation to get an abortion.
“Babies are created in the image of God," said Senator John Milkovich (D-Shreveport). "We believe that they feel pain at 15 weeks.”
State law currently prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. A bill by Sen. Milkovich would make the procedure illegal after 15 weeks. Critics argue that further restricting access to abortion could raise questions about constitutionality.
Amy Irvin, Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, says the bill disregards Roe v Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision which protected a woman’s right to seek an abortion.
“Women are moral agents and we must respect their right to follow their conscience when making moral decisions," Irvin said during the committee meeting.
Ellie Schilling is an attorney who represents reproductive health clinics across Louisiana. She warned the committee that if this bill were to become law, it would likely be challenged in court.
“So at this time of unprecedented budget problems in Louisiana, the Legislature should not force the state into another costly legal battle that the state will ultimately lose," Schilling said.
Schilling pointed to the current legal battle in Mississippi. Last month, Mississippi’s governor signed a similar 15-week ban into law. The Center for Reproductive Rights quickly filed a lawsuit, calling the ban unconstitutional. A judge has temporarily blocked the law from going into effect.
Senator Milkovich says if a lawsuit were to play out here in Louisiana as a result of his bill, it's a battle he's willing to fight. "It's been said that the litigation could cost several million dollars. I don’t know of a better expenditure we can make than to protect the life of the unborn," Milkovich said.
With four members in support and only one opposed, the bill made it out of committee.