Louisiana House Agrees To 72-Hour Wait Period For Abortion

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana House voted Wednesday to triple the wait time for women seeking an abortion to 72 hours, an increase that would match Louisiana to five other states with the longest waiting periods in the country.

         The change to Louisiana's abortion restrictions is supported by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and sailed through the House with an 89-5 vote. It moves next to the Senate for consideration.

         A woman in Louisiana currently has to wait 24 hours from the time she consults with a doctor and gets a mandatory ultrasound to the moment she gets an abortion. Under Republican Rep. Frank Hoffmann's bill, that waiting period would grow by another two days.

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         The proposal includes an exception for women who live 150 miles from the nearest abortion clinic. They would still have to wait 24 hours.

         As he introduced the bill, Hoffmann described his pride that "Louisiana's one of the top pro-life states in America." He suggested the longer waiting period could help reduce the number of abortions in Louisiana by giving women more time to consider alternatives.

         "It can certainly help prevent against later regret," said Hoffmann, R-West Monroe. He added: "It's the life of the unborn child that will be affected by the decision."

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         The bill received overwhelming and bipartisan support with no debate. No one spoke in opposition to the increased wait time.

         Abortion rights groups oppose the legislation. They've described similar laws as roadblocks aimed at trying to make it harder for women to access a legal procedure.

         Five other states — Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah — already have 72-hour waiting periods in place, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Several other states impose 48-hour waiting times.

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         Both Democrats and Republicans in Louisiana's Legislature have approved new restrictions on abortion year after year.

         Also approved by the House in an 87-0 vote Wednesday was a measure that would require doctors who perform abortions to be either board certified or certifiable in obstetrics and gynecology, or family medicine.

         The bill by Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, would allow medical students enrolled in residency programs for obstetrics and gynecology or family medicine to perform abortions if under the "direct supervision" of a board-certified doctor.

         That proposal also heads to the Senate for review.

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte

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