Media Outlets Perpetuate Confusion on Current Law

Baton Rouge, LA – In the wake of yesterday’s legislative hearings on HB 598 and HB 461, there has been tremendous confusion regarding Louisiana’s laws on abortion and relevant exceptions.

This confusion was highlighted by two separate events.

First, Rep. Mary DuBuisson made an egregiously false statement at the beginning of testimony on HB 461 when she said that Louisiana’s pro-life laws mean that “women carrying dead babies will be forced to carry them to term even at risk of their personal health.” 

Second, a very misleading article in the Advocate newspaper further misled the public with the following paragraph:

“House Bill 598, which would have clarified that ectopic pregnancies can be legally treated via surgery, died in the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee on a 7-5 vote. House Bill 461, which would have exempted miscarriages from the ban, also died, that time on a 8-5 vote.”

The Advocate’s quote implies that the removal of an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage management are not allowed by current law. In reality, current law clearly exempts both the removal of an ectopic pregnancy AND miscarriage management from Louisiana’s laws on abortion.

Louisiana R.S. 14.87.1 specifies that removing an ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion, and therefore is permitted under law (see the law colored red below). Louisiana R.S. 14.87.1 also specifies that miscarriage management is not an abortion, and therefore permitted under law (see the law colored green below). Please scroll down to read the actual law.

HB 461 and HB 598 were aimed at revising current law on miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies. It is patently false to state that Louisiana law does not permit doctors to handle these situations.

Sarah Zagorski, Communications Director for Louisiana Right to Life, said the following, “We implore the media and legislators to refrain from misrepresenting Louisiana law. These statements perpetuate the confusion present in society about Louisiana’s law on abortion. Louisiana law currently provides doctors ample discretion to care for patients facing ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and medical emergencies. We call on the Advocate and other media outlets to make corrections immediately so that the public is not further confused.


The following is an excerpt from R.S. 14.87.1. Click here to read the full law. Louisiana Right to Life has added emphasis below.

§87.1. Definitions

Wherever used in this Subpart, unless a different meaning clearly appears in the context, the following terms, whether used in the singular or plural, shall have the following meanings:

(1)(a) “Abortion” or “induced abortion” means the performance of any act with the intent to terminate a clinically diagnosable pregnancy with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the unborn child by one or more of the following means:

(i) Administering, prescribing, or providing any abortion-inducing drug, potion, medicine, or any other substance, device, or means to a pregnant female.

(ii) Using an instrument or external force on a pregnant female.

(b) Abortion shall not mean any one or more of the following acts, if performed by a physician:

(i) A medical procedure performed with the intention to save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child.

      (ii) The removal of a dead unborn child or the inducement or delivery of the uterine contents in case of a positive diagnosis, certified in writing in the woman’s medical record along with the results of an obstetric ultrasound test, that the pregnancy has ended or is in the unavoidable and untreatable process of ending due to spontaneous miscarriage, also known in medical terminology as spontaneous abortion, missed abortion, inevitable abortion, incomplete abortion, or septic abortion.

      (iii) The removal of an ectopic pregnancy.

      (iv) The use of methotrexate to treat an ectopic pregnancy.

(v) The performance of a medical procedure necessary in good faith medical judgment or reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death to the pregnant woman due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman. However, the physician shall make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with reasonable medical practice.

(vi) The removal of an unborn child who is deemed to be medically futile. The diagnosis shall be a medical judgment certified by two qualified physicians and recorded in the woman’s medical record. The medical procedure shall be performed in a licensed ambulatory surgical center or hospital. Upon the completion of the procedure, the physician shall submit an individual abortion report consistent with R.S. 40:1061.21 that includes appropriate evidence of the certified diagnosis.