With leaked draft overturning Roe v. Wade, let’s look at Louisiana’s abortion law

By: - May 3, 2022 10:58 am

More legal challenges are expected, but an outright ban on abortions would go into effect immediately in Louisiana except in certain instances.

If the leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on a Mississippi abortion law overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, laws in place in several states will take effect. More legal challenges are expected, but Louisiana’s 16-year-old abortion law would go into effect immediately and include only limited exceptions.

The Louisiana Legislature approved the state law in question in 2006, and Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco added her signature to it. Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, sponsored the bill, and Rep. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, carried it in the House of Representatives.

“I believe it is probably the most important bill we will vote on this session,” Martiny said on the House floor.

The only way a woman could receive an abortion in Louisiana under the law would be if the pregnancy threatened her life or carrying it to term would permanently damage a “life-sustaining organ.”

Rep. Charlie DeWitt, D-Alexandria, attempted to add exceptions for victims of rape and incest, but Martiny opposed them.

“Unfortunately, if we adopt this amendment, what we are basically saying is we are going to punish the innocent victim of these consequences by taking their life,” he said.

Support for the rape exception came from members of both parties, but Republicans led the fight against the amendment.

“Abortion does not unrape a woman. … Abortion allows the rapist to triumph twice,” said Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Pearl River.

“It’s just not proper to violate this woman a second time by performing an abortion on her,” said Rep. Shirley Bowler, R-Harahan.

Steve Scalise, the current U.S. House minority whip, served in the Louisiana House at the time and supported the abortion prohibition. “Ultimately, it’s my hope and many others that the Supreme Court will change its mind and then states will have the right to make that decision,” he said in 2006.

“Roe vs. Wade will be revisited,” said Rep. Mike Strain, R-Covington, who’s now the state agriculture commissioner. “It is time we take a stand. It is time that we speak out and show what we believe.”

Current Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, held a House seat in 2006 and was among the supporters of the Nevers-Martiny bill. She also argued against the rape and incest exception.

“Let’s do what is morally right, and not just what’s politically correct,” Barrow told fellow House members.

The DeWitt amendment failed in a 37-66 vote.

Rep. Monica Walker, D-Alexandria, pursued a separate amendment to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraceptive medication, but it also failed.

The Nevers-Martiny bill was ultimately approved in a 85-17 vote. It had advanced from the Senate on a 30-7 vote.

Julie O’Donoghue contributed to this report.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.