2021 Louisiana Right to Life Legislative Session Report
(The video above, recorded June 14, was done prior to Gov. Edwards signing HB 578)
Louisiana remains PROUDLY PRO-LIFE! Your legislators worked with us until the end of the 2021 Legislative Session to continue to light the way toward mothers choosing life and for their babies to be protected by law and welcomed with love.
Louisiana Right to Life was present at the Capitol 2-3 times a week from early April until this last week of session representing the pro-life people of Louisiana, and most importantly, unborn babies and their moms.
In this second session of the 2020-2023 Legislative Term, new legislators who had not voted on pro-life issues before due to the 2020 shortened COVID-19 session showed their dedication to the pro-life cause as high numbers of legislators voted pro-life.
Here’s a look at some of our bills of the 2021 State Legislative Session below:
Abortion Pill Reversal Disclosure Act, HB 578 by Representative Amedee
This bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law on June 29 by Gov. John Bel Edwards. It is now Act 483 and takes effect Aug 1, 2021.
No woman should ever feel forced to finish a chemical abortion if she is having second thoughts and experiencing regret, and she should be informed of all of her options. The law requires that when a physician or agent thereof administers mifeprestone (the first abortion pill in the chemical/medical abortion process) to a pregnant women, he shall provide a disclosure statement to her letting her to talk to her doctor if she regrets her abortion to see what options might be available to her to help her continue her pregnancy and save her baby.
We want to give women who regret their abortion hope: the hope to have the chance to hold her baby, to raise her baby or choose adoption, to live without regret. This legislation simply encourages women who regret their abortion to talk to their doctor to see what their options are. For example, a beautiful pair of twins was born in Baton Rouge recently who were saved through the protocol in the first trimester. Read more about the protocol and the bill at ProLifeLouisiana.org/apr
Adoption State Tax Deduction Act, HB 424 by Representative McFarland
This bill passed the House and Senate and became Act 378 when it was signed into law by Gov. Edwards on June 16. It will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. It provides state tax deductions to families who adopt an infant privately or through foster care. The legislation began with only tax deductions for adopting through foster care, but Louisiana Right to Life lobbied and secured the addition of the tax deduction for families adopting infants privately as well to help ease at least some of the financial expense of infant adoption. Sarah Zagorski, Director for Adoption Education for Louisiana Right to Life, framed our support for this bill and its additions. It provides foster parents similar to hers with a tax deduction that would greatly help financial struggles that foster parents have. Foster parents are sacrificing their life to take on the child’s basic necessities as well as counseling and other healthcare costs associated with abuse and trauma that the child may have endured, as Sarah did. In her testimony, Sarah said that parents who foster children and parents who adopt children both deserve assistance considering the great long-term sacrifice they are making to take modern day “orphans”, or children who cannot be raised by their biological family, into their home.
Integrity in Adoption Act, HB 54 by Representative Edmonds
This bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Edwards on June 29 as Act 464. It will go into effect on Aug. 1. The Integrity in Adoption Act protects prospective adoptive parents from “bad actors” in the adoption process who would look to defraud adoptive parents by establishing the crime of adoption deception. Adoption deception would include those individuals portraying themselves to be pregnant or accepting living expenses from multiple prospective adoptive families at one time.
Hospital Complication Reporting Act, HB 423 by Representative Emerson
It passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by Gov. Edwards on June 21. Now Act 425, it will take effect Aug. 1, 2021. This bill requires hospitals to report to the Louisiana Department of Health when they treat a complication from an abortion. This information will provide clear information to courts and the public about the rate of complications from abortion.
We know that there are an abundance of loopholes for abortion facilities to operate at substandard care for women, and women often have to turn to the emergency room due to negative effects from the abortion pill or hemorrhaging from uterine perforation in surgical abortion. Yet abortion facilities pass simply with paying a fine for their unending list of health violations found in Department of Health public records, and do not have accurate reporting on how many women are actually being harmed and turning toward emergency rooms at their hands, as discovered by the Louisiana Attorney General’s office when examining discrepancies. This is a way to close the gap of concrete evidence and hold these abortion faciliites accountable for the damage they do to women.
Protecting Minors in Abortion Act, HB 357 by Representative Crews
This bill passed the House and Senate, and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law as Act. 482 on June 29. This law, which takes effect Aug. 1, 2021, limits the jurisdiction of a judicial bypass (which is an exception required by the Supreme Court to parental consent and allows minors to get abortions through a judge’s determination). This will make the judicial bypass process go through a judge in the minor woman’s civil parish (with some exceptions) instead of having the option to go to the judge in the civil parish where the abortion facility operates. HB 357 also collects important data on minors having abortion after receiving a judicial bypass.
Limitations on this process are sorely needed because pro-abortion advocates are consistently funneling underage girls into an easy route to obtain an abortion without parental consent. These advocates have websites with step-by-step information and people who dedicate themselves to walking these girls personally through the process, all with the knowledge of which justices and courts are willing to grant permission to abortion for almost any reason. But we know that these young girls do not deserve to be pushed through such a traumatic experience, especially if their guardians are saying otherwise, and so it’s time to work toward ending this systematic scheme. In fact, a family during this legislative session sought the counsel of Angie Thomas, Associate Director of Louisiana Right to Life, as their young daughter sought and obtained an abortion through this process even though her parents and grandparents were loving and completely willing to support her and her unborn baby. Her mother and grandmother are now advocates for the reform of the judicial bypass process. This bill also strengthens the rights of parents.
Adoption Enhancement Act, HB 37 by Representative Bacala
This bill passed and was signed into law by Gov. Edwards on June 1. It will take effect as Act 6 on Aug. 1, 2021. The law provides more reliable statistics about the frequency of adoption and strengthens the post-adoption placement system for both attorneys and adoption agencies. Sarah Zagorski, Director of Adoption Education, also testified in committee for the bill that adoption is widely unpopular since national pregnancy outcome statistics reveal that, in terms of options other than parenting, the abortion outcome is 12% and adoption is 0.2%. This is obviously a lack of resources and information for women in pregnancy crisis. We want to be sure to educate all of Louisiana on the benefits of an adoption plan, and we can do this better by knowing how many mothers are actually informed of the adoption option, as opposed to only looking at the differences between parenting and abortion in her time of crisis.
Safe Haven Baby Box Authorization Act, HB 218 by Representative Huval
This bill passed the House and Senate and became Act 421 as it was signed into law by Gov. Edwards on June 21. It will take effect on Aug 1, 2021. It authorizes the installation and use of newborn safety devices (aka “Baby Boxes”) at hospitals designated in the Safe Haven Law. The placement boxes are professionally done and they set off an alarm shortly after the baby is inside. This allows mothers who are in a desperate situation to relinquish their baby with total anonymity, thereby providing an alternative to babies found in dumpsters, in the lake, or even on the ground next to safe haven destinations. The Safe Haven Law has been in place for a while which allows mothers to relinquish their baby safely without fear of criminal prosecution within 60 days.
There have been many successful safe relinquishments and consequent loving adoptions because of the Safe Haven Baby Boxes that have been established in America. Click here to read this story in Indiana.
Protection of Disabled from Forced Abortion and Sterilization Act, HB 255 by Representative Owens
This bill has been turned into a Study Resolution for further clarification for future legislation. Currently, disability legislation allows for the freedom of a curator (a guardian/decision-maker for a person with a disability) to have a court order a sterilization or abortion for an interdict (the child or person with disability under the curator’s guardianship) without the interdict’s desire or consent for either procedure. There were many roadblocks to making sure a change to this current law fits appropriately within Louisiana disability law, and we agree with our lawmakers that we want to do it right by examining the details more closely. We intend to resolve this eugenic issue in 2022’s Legislative Session.
We do know, unfortunately, based on close witness testimony that forced sterilization and forced abortion has been done on people with disabilities in Louisiana. Particularly, we know that the practices are rampant in the blind community and we fear that it is possibly rampant within the Autism and Down Syndrome community. As our friend, Deja Powell, an advocate who received a degree in Louisiana, said, “As an educator of blind students, I’ve spent nearly 13 years meeting and interacting with hundreds of blind individuals, all with unique stories and backgrounds. I taught blind children in Louisiana for several years and got to watch as they grew and developed. In my teaching, I met a blind woman who was facing a gut-wrenching reality. When she was born her parents were upset and disappointed to learn that the mother’ s blindness had been passed onto their daughter. In an effort to “protect” her and future grandchildren, they had their daughter legally sterilized. Now as an adult, this young woman faced something far more painful than blindness: infertility and loss of an option to be a mom, something she wanted so badly. This decision by her parents to sterilize their daughter caused her great heartache, depression, mental illness, and intense struggle with self-worth. Most people are ill-educated when it comes to the lives of the blind. For the large majority of us, life is full and happy and filled with opportunities and hope. There is a fundamental misunderstanding that blindness is the worst case scenario, and some may feel that it is so bad that termination or sterilization is best. The decision to end a life, or prevent life from being created, based on the presence of a disability, is taking away the most basic human rights we all are granted. The problem isn’t blindness, or the disability itself, it’s a lack of education on the possibilities of great happiness and success for those with a disability.”
Read more about the eugenic nature of the current sterilization and abortion disability law in our Luminary Spring 2021 edition on page 6.
Diaper State Tax Act, HB 7 by Rep. Freeman
This bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law as Act 449 on June 23. It became effective the same day! It eliminates the state sales tax on diapers so to help families and pro-life ministries save money when purchasing this necessity. During our baby bag supply drives, particularly during the Louisiana state shutdown during COVID, we witnessed how mothers were desperate for baby supplies. In fact, families waited in the heat down the street from our office for two hours for a single pack of diapers, wipes, shampoo and other things. So many women continue to be in need of supplies to get by, and as pro-life people we are so happy to do something about it! Even this small token of compassion for mothers will help them choose life for their babies!
Other Great News!
Through the recommendation of Louisiana Right to Life’s Director of Outreach Pastor Brian Gunter, State Representative Mike Johnson of Pineville led the effort to secure an $11,946,139 increase for foster care board rates, adoption subsidies, and guardianship subsidies, the first such increase in 15 years. This now brings Louisiana much closer to the southern average for foster care and adoption support.