Louisiana Governor Cracks Down On Abortion Pills, Strengthens Trigger Ban

The new laws that Democratic Gov. Jon Bel Edwards signed anticipate the fall of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a rare anti-abortion Democrat, signed two pieces of legislation in the past week taking aim at abortion ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade.

One of the new measures bans physicians from prescribing medication abortion over the phone or online, requiring patients to go to a provider in person and take the medication in front of them.

The new policy, slated to go into effect on Aug. 1, will be complicated and time-consuming for patients seeking this common first-trimester option. The abortion-inducing pills must be taken over the course of 24-48 hours, so the law would require patients to take multiple visits to a provider. And abortion clinics nationwide have been inundated with out-of-state patients, partly due to Texas and Oklahoma ― both near Louisiana ― enacting the country’s strictest abortion bans in recent months. In many places, experts on the matter say, clinic appointments are booked two to four weeks out.

Another bill Edwards signed strengthens Louisiana’s so-called “trigger ban” that allows the state to swiftly outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overthrows Roe v. Wade, which may happen in the coming weeks. This legislation increases the criminal penalties for abortion, increasing prison time from five to ten years and raising fines from $10,000 to $100,000.

Edwards said in a statement that he signed the update to the trigger ban even though he believes it should include exceptions for rape and incest, which it does not.

“My position on abortion has been unwavering,” he said. “I am pro-life and have never hidden from that fact. This does not belie my belief that there should be an exception to the prohibition on abortion for victims of rape and incest.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju said in a statement Tuesday that Louisiana Republicans “should be ashamed of themselves” and that her office will be working to ensure voters oust Edwards from office next year in light of his stance on reproductive rights.

“Instead of working overtime to ensure the people of Louisiana can continue to make their own decisions about when to start or grow their families, these politicians are finding new ways to insert themselves into our personal lives. Voters won’t forget which politicians refused to protect their rights in this critical moment — and NARAL will be working to educate and mobilize them to ensure a champion for reproductive freedom wins the governor’s office in 2023,” she said.

Louisiana is one of 13 states with trigger laws on the books, but at least 22 states are expected to outlaw abortion in nearly all instances as soon as the Supreme Court gives them the go-ahead. A draft opinion leaked from the court last month revealed that the justices were planning to toss out nearly 50 years of abortion protections established by Roe v. Wade and let states rule on the matter without federal oversight.

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