- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A proposal to ban abortions in Louisiana based on gender sailed through the House health care committee Wednesday.

Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma, said her bill would “help protect the unborn of Louisiana” and prohibit discrimination.

She cited reports of women in Asian nations having abortions when they find out they would deliver a girl, not a boy. She said there are similar instances in the United States, though she didn’t list any specific examples.

“We need to make sure that baby girls are not aborted in Louisiana simply because they are baby girls,” Whitney said.

The bill would give the father or a grandparent of the aborted fetus the ability to sue the doctor who performed the procedure for damages up to $10,000 if they believe the abortion was based on gender.

It also gives the state, a spouse, a parent, a sibling or a health care provider of the woman who had the abortion or who sought an abortion based on gender the ability to seek an injunction against a doctor who violates the prohibition.

Seven states have laws on the books prohibiting abortion for gender selection: Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal access to abortion and tracks abortion laws across states.

In Louisiana, lawmakers added language to the bill that also would require the doctor performing an abortion to tell a woman the sex of the fetus, if determinable, at the start of the state-mandated, 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion. The attempt must be made to determine gender if the pregnancy has reached 10 weeks post-fertilization.

Whitney said that information, which would be required under the state’s “Woman’s Right to Know” law, would give women as much information as possible before having an abortion.

Abortion-rights organizations opposed Whitney’s bill but didn’t testify against it in the committee hearing.

The measure heads to the full House for consideration after getting no objection Wednesday from the House Health and Welfare Committee.

Louisiana is one of the nation’s most anti-abortion states, enacting a series of restrictions over the years. Unlike in other states, proposals to add new restrictions to abortion in Louisiana don’t divide Republicans and Democrats and regularly get overwhelming, bipartisan support in the socially conservative state.

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Online:

House Bill 701 can be found at www.legis.la.gov

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