Seventy-six leading pro-life organizations sent a letter to state legislators May 12 condemning plans to criminalize women who have abortions.
“The tragedy of abortion isn’t limited to the unborn child who loses her life,” the letter reads. “The mother who aborts her child is also Roe’s victim. She is the victim of a callous industry created to take lives; an industry that claims to provide for ‘women’s health,’ but denies the reality that far too many American women suffer devastating physical and psychological damage following abortion.”
The letter, signed by pro-life leaders such as National Right to Life President Carol Tobias and Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, was purposefully sent on the same day the Louisiana State House was scheduled to vote on HB 813, a bill that would have rewritten the state’s homicide statute to include criminal prosecution of women who have abortions, as well as criminalize the use of certain types of contraception and parts of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process.
According to Forbes, 12 other states have introduced bills similar to HB 813, yet the Louisiana bill is the only one to have made it out of committee so far.
David French, senior editor of The Dispatch, calls legislation like this part of the “abolitionist” movement.
“The mainstream pro-life movement is and has been resolutely opposed to criminalizing mothers who obtain abortions,” he says. “At the same time, there is a growing movement—the ‘abolitionist’ movement that strongly objects to the mainstream position. Abortion is murder, they say, and murderers should be punished.”
In response to the May 12 letter, Louisiana Rep. Alan Seabaugh, a Republican, introduced an amendment to HB 813, removing all language punishing women and making it so that the measure would take effect only if Roe V. Wade is overturned. The amendment also got rid of language that would have made certain contraceptives and IVF illegal.
The amendment was adopted by the state House in a 65-26 vote, effectively rendering the House bill dead.
“Women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support as well as ready access to counseling and social services in the days, weeks, months and years following an abortion,” said the pro-life leaders in the letter sent to state legislators.
“As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women and children across the country, let us be clear: We state unequivocally that we do not support any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women and we stand firmly opposed to include such penalties in legislation.”