Bill requires mental health info before abortion

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Anti-abortion lawmakers want women seeking the procedure in Louisiana to get pamphlets describing possible psychological effects, the illegality of coerced abortions and services available to human trafficking victims.

The House Health and Welfare Committee backed a bill Wednesday that would require clinics to provide those three brochures to women at the start of their state-mandated, 24-hour waiting period before they can have an abortion.

That would be added to other printed materials already required under the “Woman’s Right to Know” law, such as information on the fetus’ development in the womb and alternatives to abortion.

Supporters of the bill by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, said it would provide useful information to women seeking an abortion.

“To me this bill has the woman make her decision with all of the information that is available,” said Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte.

Ivey described the “potential psychiatric issues” that can occur after women have the procedure, and other backers of his proposal talked of possible post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms that women experience because of an abortion.

However, studies disagree on whether there’s a correlation between having an abortion and having increased levels of stress or anxiety.

Information on human trafficking and the services available to combat the criminal activity is important because abortions often are forced onto trafficking victims, said Cindy Collins, founder of Louisiana Abortion Recovery Alliance, an anti-abortion organization.

“These abortion facilities and these brochures can actually be a point of rescue,” she told lawmakers.

Opponents of Ivey’s bill said it would add unnecessary costs for clinics and was designed to create another hurdle for women seeking to get a legal procedure.

Sylvia Cochran, an administrator for abortion clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, said the facilities already provide much of the information through conversations with patients that the measure would mandate in printed pamphlets.

“We follow the law and we go beyond that,” she said. Later, she added, “It’s just one thing after another. It’s just another obstacle.”

Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs, chairman of the committee, discarded arguments about cost.

“If this saves one human life, I don’t care the cost. I think it’s a win,” he said.

No committee member objected to sending the bill to the full House for debate.

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