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Forward for Life, HB 813 Explained

By Benjamin Clapper

Louisiana Right to Life, Executive Director, Benjamin Clapper

Louisiana Right to Life has been working tirelessly to make abortion illegal and unthinkable for 52 YEARS! Through our advocacy at the Capitol, public education, youth education, outreach to abortion-minded women, and so much more, we have worked with you to make Louisiana the most pro-life state in the nation! We have been relentless in our mission to share the truth about the violence of abortion on babies and how it hurts women.

In light of this, I want to tell you where we are in protecting life in Louisiana, but also to share our position on HB 813 that was debated at the Capitol last night.

We’re finally on the precipice of what is likely the demise of Roe vs. Wade and the restoration of the legal protection of unborn babies in Louisiana.  With the Supreme Court’s leaked draft on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it’s clear that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned.

Through your support and our work, we have prepared for this day to save babies and protect moms! Louisiana is ready to legally protect unborn babies when Roe is overturned.

Louisiana law is clear: when Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion is illegal in Louisiana thanks to our 2006 Human Life Protection Act.

Watch Rep. Seabaugh explain this on the Louisiana House Floor.

Not only that, but there are clear civil and criminal penalties that the abortionists will face if they perform, sell, or provide an abortion:

“Whoever commits the crime of abortion shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not less than one nor more than ten years and shall be fined not less than ten thousand dollars nor more than one hundred thousand dollars.”

In addition to what is in law right now, we are advancing legislation at the State Capitol that will strengthen our pro-life laws:

  • The Reaffirmation of the Human Life Protection Act, SB 342 by Senator Katrina Jackson, puts our trigger law in our civil code into our criminal code, ensuring that those performing abortions after Roe v. Wade is overturned are held accountable with civil and criminal penalties.
  • Stopping the Sale of Illegal Abortion, SB 342 by Senator Sharon Hewitt, places criminal penalties on those illegally selling abortion drugs online or through the mail.

And, we are excited to announce, we have secured this session at least an additional $1,000,000 in government funding for alternatives to abortion, and we hope that increases before session ends!

Louisiana is poised to be an abortion-free state that protects unborn children and supports moms!

But during this important work, there has been one piece of legislation, HB 813, we did not support that has attracted national media attention.

We want to make sure you understand our position on this legislation that we took in unity with a multitude of other pro-life state and national organizations, including Louisiana Family Forum, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, and more.

Put briefly, this confusing bill went against the America’s government structure by claiming it could have Louisiana ignore the rulings of the Supreme Court and punish judges who do not disregard these rulings. In addition, it would criminalize women for murder rather than those performing the abortion.

We opposed the bill in its original form for a few primary reasons.
  • UNNECESSARY TO STOP ABORTION: HB 813 was not necessary to protect babies from abortion in Louisiana. Louisiana already has a trigger law to protect life when Roe v Wade is overturned, which is expected this summer. This will give legal protection to unborn babies in Louisiana. We are strengthening that trigger law by putting it into our criminal code right now through Senator Katrina Jackson’s SB 342.
  • FUTILE AND DIVISIVE: HB 813 called for Louisiana to completely subvert the system of American government as laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Like it or not, if HB 813 had been passed, it would have been stopped by a federal court, not on the grounds of abortion, but simply on the grounds that a legislature cannot tell a court that their decisions are unconstitutional. This is Civics 101. This means that HB 813 would never have gone into effect.Combined with the fact that Gov. Edwards would never have signed HB 831 into law, HB 831 was a needless and futile distraction as we march towards the end of abortion. As Rep. Alan Seabaugh strongly said on the House floor last night, even if HB 813 had been passed, it would never have saved a single baby from abortion.Sadly, proponents of HB 813 knew the bill would not succeed this session. Even when Rep. McCormick andhis proponents were offered alternatives that could have succeeded in advancing the protection of life, they rejected them. And this is all in the backdrop that Louisiana law will end abortion when Roe v. Wade is overturned!  Honestly, I am still dumbfounded that we went through this national distraction only weeks before what will likely be the overturn of Roe v. Wade. While I do not question the fervor of Rep. McCormick to protect life, HB 813 was an instrument of futile division.
  • CRIMINALIZE ABORTIONISTS, NOT WOMEN: Our longstanding policy is that we hold abortion businesses and those who perform, sell, or provide abortions with civil or criminal penalties, not abortion-vulnerable women. Women are victims of Roe v. Wade and an abortion industry seeking to profit from their difficult situation. Data shows that upwards of 60% of women who abort face coercion during the decision and the majority at the epicenter of social disadvantage in society.Together with state and national pro-life organizations including National Right to Life, Susan B. Anthony List, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, we stand united that criminalizing them is not consistent with our pro-life mission. Abortion is wrong, and healing and forgiveness must be offered to women AND men involved, but criminalizing them is not the answer.

Our position has been met with attacks from proponents of HB 813 saying we are not pro-life or Christian. This is incredibly unfortunate at a time when unity is critical as we look towards the end of Roe v, Wade. Instead, proponents of HB 813 have needlessly divided the pro-life movement and disparaged anyone who disagrees with their position. Our organization was founded to restore the right to life in Louisiana, and we will continue to fight for the legal rights of unborn children. We will always love both the baby and the mom.

Ultimately, in consultation with legislators, we succeeded in fundamentally replacing HB 813 with an amendment by Rep. Alan Seabaugh that mirrors current Louisiana law to protect life and hold abortion businesses accountable instead of women. We don’t expect HB 813 to receive further consideration this legislative session.

Thankfully, now that the distraction of HB 813 is in the rear view mirror, we call for unity as we prepare for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Let’s move forward for life to protect every child and support every mom.