By Will Hall, Baptist Message executive editor
WASHINGTON (LBM)—Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, June 24, that overturned Roe v. Wade did not itself ban abortion nationwide, the decision triggered a 2006 state law, updated during the 2022 legislative session, that instantly outlawed abortion in Louisiana.
Revised Statute 40, Section 1061, titled “Abortion: Prohibition” specifically states that any “decision of the United States Supreme Court which reverses, in whole or in part, Roe v. Wade,” immediately puts into effect a ban on anything “causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being.”
This section of the Louisiana legal code was updated by S.B 342, signed into law as Act 545 by Gov. John Bel Edwards and effective since June 22. These changes to Louisiana’s prohibition against abortion do not make an exception for the case of a pregnancy that results from rape and incest. But it does contain exceptions for a pregnancy which imperils the physical life of the mother and an ectopic pregnancy, as well as for any pregnancy for which two doctors conclude that the unborn child would not survive after birth. Act 545 also permits the use of “morning after” pills – emergency contraception taken shortly after sex to prevent pregnancy.
Meanwhile, the updates to the 2006 law contain harsher penalties than before for anyone who “commits the crime of abortion” from the “moment of fertilization.” Violators face up to 10 years of confinement and $100,000 in fines — increasing up to 15 years in jail and $200,000 in fines for performing a late term abortion (gestational age of 15 weeks or more).
Importantly, the state law mandates that abortion facilities shut down immediately.
For Louisianans, there might be a measure of redemption now that some of the strongest pro-life laws in the country are in effect in the state.
Norma McCorvey, who was the plaintiff “Roe” in the landmark case, Roe v. Wade, was born, Sept. 22, 1947, in Simmesport, Louisiana. She was raised by her parents, Olin “Jimmy” Nelson and Mildred Gautreaux Nelson, in Lettsworth, Louisiana, until her family moved to Houston, Texas, when she was 13 years old.