Update, May 29, 1:05 p.m. Eastern: HB 1262 has passed the house unanimously with a 87-0 vote, and will now head to Gov. Jindal for signature or veto.
The Louisiana Senate passed two pieces of anti-choice legislation Tuesday, adding to what has become a productive session for anti-choice lawmakers and activists. One bill would ban abortion providers from teaching sex education in public schools, and the other would require women seeking an abortion to receive information written by the state about the alleged mental health risks associated with the procedure.
HB 305, sponsored by Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R-West Monroe), would prohibit organizations like Planned Parenthood from guiding discussions on sexuality in classrooms in the state. The ban would apply to all public and charter schools that receive state funding. Hospitals would be exempt from the proposed law.
State Sen. Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa) said on the senate floor that the legislation is aimed at ensuring “that our children … are not being targeted by abortion organizations.” Nevers has been an outspoken voice for anti-choice legislation, including aggressively questioning reproductive rights advocates in committee hearings.
Sen. Karen Peterson (D-New Orleans) countered that the legislation specifically targets Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “It takes one of the premier organizations in this country out of the equation,” said Peterson. “This is a direct attack on an entity that is performing a very, very good service.”
Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans) said the legislation sets a troubling precedent. “We are wading into some very troubling waters,” said Morrell.
HB 1262, sponsored by Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Baton Rouge), would require abortion providers to give information to women about the “psychological impacts” of abortion. Under the bill, a pamphlet with this information will be given to patients, who must sign a document confirming they received it and then wait 24 hours before returning for their procedure.
The information included in the pamphlets will be written by a 14-member task force, comprising state lawmakers, psychologists, and a member who “provides pre-abortion or post-abortion counseling in association with a nonprofit organization that does not counsel for or provide abortion.” The panel seemingly will not include abortion providers or medical or mental health professionals that advocate for abortion rights.
HB 305 will now be sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk for signature or veto. HB 1262 is scheduled to be heard in the house on Thursday for a vote on concurrence; if it passes it also will be sent to Jindal.