The Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade, restoring to states the ability to protect unborn babies from the violence of abortion. With this decision, Louisiana law should immediately go into effect, safeguarding the right to life of precious children waiting to be born.
The Louisiana 2022 Reaffirmation of Human Life Protection Act (Act 545 / LA R.S. 14.87.7) distinctly makes elective abortions illegal and defines these abortions as 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.”
These illegal elective abortions are not to be conflated with proportionate pregnancy care for the mother and the unborn child that occurs in our hospitals and doctor’s offices. we have noticed the growing amount of misinformation about the effects of abortion laws on the medical practice of Louisiana physicians. Some statements have suggested that physicians would not be able to provide necessary care. The Human Life Protection Act clearly defines those actions which are not considered abortions under the legal definition of elective abortion.
With the consultation and review of Louisiana physicians, most notably OBGYNs, we present the following sections to address much of the misinformation, or you can view the entire physicians’ statement and Louisiana physicians’ signatures here.
Louisiana law is clear that Louisiana physicians should provide the necessary care when a mother is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. Their ability to care for women in these medical emergencies has not changed.
RS 14.87.1(1)(b) says, “Abortion shall not mean any one or more of the following acts, if performed by a physician:
The Mayo Clinic explains ectopic pregnancy as follows, “Normally, the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy most often occurs in a fallopian tube, which carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This type of ectopic pregnancy is called a tubal pregnancy. Sometimes, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in other areas of the body, such as the ovary, abdominal cavity or the lower part of the uterus (cervix), which connects to the vagina. An ectopic pregnancy can’t proceed normally. The fertilized egg can’t survive, and the growing tissue may cause life-threatening bleeding, if left untreated.” And, “If the fertilized egg continues to grow in the fallopian tube, it can cause the tube to rupture.” Louisiana physicians should not hesitate to act in the event of an ectopic pregnancy.
Louisiana law is clear that Louisiana physicians can provide the necessary care when a mother has miscarried her unborn child.
RS 14.87.1(1)(b) says, “Abortion shall not mean any one or more of the following acts, if performed by a physician:
When a woman’s body does not naturally pass a child’s remains, she may need the remains removed in order to preserve her health. Some medications or procedures that are used when performing illegal elective abortions are also used for removing the remains of a dead unborn child. The law clearly allows physicians to use these medications or procedures when removing a dead unborn child. Furthermore, the law is clear that illegal elective abortions are committed when there is a specific intent to cause the death of an unborn child.
Louisiana law is clear that Louisiana physicians can provide the necessary care when a mother’s life is in danger.
RS 14.87.1(1)(b) says, “Abortion shall not mean any one or more of the following acts, if performed by a physician:”
And, RS 14.87.1(1)(b) says the following about the termination of pregnancy to save an unborn child, “Abortion shall not mean any one or more of the following acts, if performed by a physician:”
If a pregnancy needs to end because of a condition that is endangering the mother, or even endangering her unborn child, Louisiana law allows room for physicians to proceed with actions they deem necessary to save lives. It is impossible for Louisiana law to list every possible complication or emergency or to provide step-by-step guidelines for how physicians can handle these situations. Because of this, the law quoted above repeatedly makes reference to these decisions being made with the “good faith medical judgment” of physicians consistent with “reasonable medical practice.” These terms are defined under the same section as “a physician’s use of reasonable care and diligence, along with his best judgment, in the application of his skill. The standard of care required of every healthcare provider, in rendering professional services or health care to a patient, shall be to exercise that degree of skill ordinarily employed, under similar circumstances, by the members of his profession in good standing in the same community or locality.” Louisiana law is deferring the judgment of complex medical situations to the expertise of a physician, as long as the physician is acting with the intent to save the life of the mother and under medical necessity.
It is our opinion that Louisiana law is telling physicians to practice good medicine and care for patients in emergencies. Our practice of helping our patients has not changed in a post-Roe landscape.
Louisiana law clearly does not include any form of contraception within it’s definition of abortion.
RS 14.87.1(2)(b) says,“Abortion-inducing drug shall not mean a contraceptive, an emergency contraceptive, or the use of methotrexate to treat an ectopic pregnancy.
The terms “contraceptive” and “emergency contraceptive” are further defined in RS 14.87.6 and RS 14.87.8 respectively:
“Contraceptive” means any device, measure, drug, chemical, or product, including single-ingredient levonorgestrel, that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the purpose of preventing pregnancy and is intended to be administered prior to the time when a clinically diagnosable pregnancy can be determined, provided that the contraceptive is sold, prescribed, or administered in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.”
(8) “Emergency contraceptive” means a drug, chemical, or product, including but not limited to single-ingredient levonorgestrel or ulipristal, that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration designed or intended to be taken after sexual intercourse but prior to the time when a clinically diagnosable pregnancy can be determined, provided that the emergency contraceptive is sold, prescribed, or administered in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions or is prescribed in accordance with the standard of care that generally accepted by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
While there are varying medical opinions on the abortifacient nature of certain contraceptives, Louisiana law does not define contraceptives or emergency contraceptives as abortion.
Louisiana law is clear: When abortion-inducing medications are used for purposes other than elective abortion, they are legal and permitted to be used while practicing medicine. La. R.S. § 14:87.9 (2022 Act 548) reads, “None of the following shall be construed to create the crime of criminal abortion by means of an abortion-inducing drug: Lawfully prescribing, dispensing, or distributing a drug, medicine, or other substance for a bona fide medical reason that is not intended to cause an abortion in violation of this Section”
The same law provides that when a physician prescribes misoprostol, Cytotec, and other drugs for uses other than elective abortion, the physician is to include the diagnostic code on the prescription to provide information alerting the pharmacist that the drug is being used for a purpose other than abortion. The practice of including the diagnostic code is consistent with standard Medicaid and Medicare practices. In fact, the Louisiana Department of Health published a lengthy list of medications that require diagnostic codes under Medicaid on its website. Again, Louisiana law is clear: When these medications are used for purposes other than elective abortion, they are legal and permitted to be used while practicing medicine.
Louisiana law allows abortion within its RS 14.87.1(1)(b) definition of “medical futility”:
(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.
The Department of Health has published a list of conditions that meet this definition, but the list also includes a provision that allows for any condition that meets the definition of medical futility as certified by two physicians.
To be clear, Louisiana Right to Life did not support the inclusion of the “medical futility” provision during the legislative session. We recognize the deep suffering families experience after receiving grave diagnoses. With this being said, all persons, including those with disabilities, have the right to life. Our society should not intentionally kill people with disabilities, regardless if they are born or waiting to be born.
We believe the best way forward that supports the mother and respects the life of the living baby is to provide support for families and perinatal palliative care from the moment of the diagnosis through the duration of the child’s natural life. Our position is backed up by the many families who have chosen this option. Louisiana Right to Life is available to connect families to other families who have experienced a similar situation. There are also hospitals in Louisiana, such as Women’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, that have a dedicated Perinatal Palliative Care program.
Read more about prenatal diagnosis, mother’s stories, and resources: ProLifeLouisiana.org/prenatal-diagnosis
We understand women in crisis pregnancies face real challenges: real solutions are available. Louisiana has an abundance of private and public resources ready to help them. Find help near you today: FindHelpLa.com
A pregnancy center is a local, non-profit organization designed to help those facing an unplanned pregnancy. All services are free and confidential. The services offered by a center vary, but generally, pregnancy centers offer free pregnancy tests, counseling services, ultrasounds, baby supplies, maternity clothes, parenting or adoption assistance, financial and material resources for groceries, transportation, childcare options, housing and safety help, family assistance referrals, and much more for a mother both before and after the birth of her baby.
Many financial and material resources are available in Louisiana to those facing unplanned pregnancies, and pregnancy centers and adoption agencies are eager to connect you with those resources. If you are pregnant and in need of help, we strongly encourage you to find a center near you.
It is time for media and abortion advocates to stop spreading the lie that necessary medical treatment would be at risk. This fear-mongering could be putting lives at risk as it may propel doctors to be hesitant to make emergent medical decisions, make pharmacists unwilling to prescribe pertinent medication, and lead to patients being too nervous to give honest explanations of their condition.
Together, let’s ensure the public knows that women’s necessary healthcare is not at stake, and move forward with protecting unborn babies and their mothers.
Join us as we work to protect life and help moms!