Lawyer: Abortion bill could subject women to homicide charge

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana House committee voted Wednesday to make abortion a crime of homicide for which a woman ending her pregnancy could be charged, along with anyone helping her.

The bill also declares that any federal law, regulation or court ruling that allows abortion is void and that any judge who blocks enforcement of the bill’s provisions could be impeached.

“Is Roe vs. Wade the law of the land? We believe the answer is no,” anti-abortion attorney Bradley Pierce told the committee during a hearing at the Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Even one committee member who voted for the bill said it would likely be struck down by state or federal courts if it became law. The bill was approved for full House by a 7-2 vote of the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Rep. Danny McCormick’s bill, introduced in the House in March, came up for a hearing less than two days after the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion indicating the high court is preparing to overturn decisions upholding a constitutional right to abortion. The bill’s supporters declared that their legislation would outlaw abortion even if the draft leaked Monday night isn’t eventually adopted by the Supreme Court.

Louisiana already has a “trigger law” criminalizing abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned, which would subject doctors or others who perform abortions to up to 10 years in prison. But the law does not call for prosecution of the pregnant woman.

McCormick’s bill, which would amend homicide statutes, has no exception and abortion rights attorneys said it would subject women to prosecution.

“This is saying that people can be charged with murder for any act that they take against their own pregnancy,” said reproductive rights lawyer Ellie Schilling.

In addition to amending homicide law, the bill by McCormick, a Republican from Oil City, would change the state’s legal definition of person, which now includes a fertilized egg that has become implanted in the womb, to simply a fertilized egg.

Opponents of the bill also said the measure would criminalize in vitro fertilization that involves destruction of some eggs that have been fertilized outside the womb, and many forms of contraception.

Rep. Tony Bacala said he would vote for the bill but also said the bill is likely to be struck down by courts if made law. “While I intend to vote for this bill, I would suggest that there may be better options that can actually go into practice instead of concepts that I feel like are probably going to be struck down. ”