- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - People who work for abortion providers will be prohibited from distributing health information at Louisiana’s public schools, under a bill that received final legislative passage Tuesday.

With a 31-5 vote of the Senate, the proposal moved to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who supports it and is expected to sign it into law.

Supporters said the measure by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe, would keep people with a financial interest in promoting abortion from speaking to students.

“I think this bill just makes sure our children are protected,” said Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa.

Opponents called it a direct attack on Planned Parenthood, and the organization said the ban could “have dangerous consequences for Louisiana” by keeping medically-appropriate sex education out of Louisiana schools.

“Teens need to know how to make responsible decisions and stay healthy,” said Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans. “What this bill is doing is taking one of the pre-eminent organizations in this country out of the classroom.”

Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said no other groups are prevented in state law from speaking at schools and local school boards should determine what’s appropriate in classrooms.

The Senate also supported two other proposals pushed by anti-abortion groups, though both must return to the House for consideration of senators’ changes before reaching final passage.

The first measure by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, would require women seeking an abortion to receive pamphlets that describe possible psychological effects of the procedure, the illegality of coerced abortions and services available to human trafficking victims.

Clinics would have to provide the brochures at the start of the state-mandated, 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion.

Senators voted 30-4 for the bill, with no debate.

A second proposal involving end-of-life decisions received much more Senate discussion.

The bill by Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, would require doctors and hospitals to use life support to keep a brain-dead pregnant woman alive until the birth of her child if an obstetrician determines the woman’s life “can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child.”

“If they have a living will, my understanding is that supersedes everything,” said Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell.

But senators sought more leeway for immediate family members to make decisions, voting 20-18 to add language that would give a spouse, children, parents or siblings of the pregnant woman the final say in end-of-life decisions.

Morrell pushed for the inclusion of the language, saying that without it, the bill could shut the family out of decision-making.

“What you’re talking about is having the government decide what happens with your loved one if they’re on life support … That should be terrifying to people,” he said.

Nevers unsuccessfully argued against the change, saying everything possible should be done to “protect that unborn child.”

After narrowly agreeing to Morrell’s amendment, senators voted 36-2 for the bill.



House Bills 305, 1262 and 1274 can be found at www.legis.la.gov

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