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House OKs bill to prohibit abortion after 15 weeks

BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana House voted 70-9 Tuesday to prohibit abortion later than 15 weeks after conception without much debate.

If the bill becomes law, Louisiana would have one of the most stringent abortion laws in the country.

Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, authored the bill. Milkovich has said his ultimate goal is to ban abortions in Louisiana altogether.

While the bill was not heavily discussed on the House floor Tuesday, more deliberation had occurred in House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee over potential litigation costs. But Milkovich argued that the costs would be worthwhile.

“I cannot think of a better expenditure of money that Louisiana could make than to protect the life of the unborn," Milkovich said.

The bill narrowly passed the committee with a 9-8 vote on May 2.

In addition to the time restriction, Milkovich’s bill also lays out penalties for physicians conducting abortions. These penalties include imprisonment for up to 10 years with hard labor and a fine of up to $100,000.

Currently Louisiana is one of 17 states in which abortion is not allowed 20 weeks after conception.

The bill emphasizes that no punishment would be applied to the female who has the abortion. It also lays out exceptions to the law if the mother’s life is at risk or to remove a stillborn child.

Rep. Valarie Hodges, who presented the bill, said the ban on abortions after 15 weeks was for the benefit of women.

“This is a very difficult and gruesome procedure that women are subjected to,” Hodges said.

Mississippi enacted the same limit on abortions in March. An abortion clinic disputed the law, and it is now being considered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The law has been temporarily suspended while the legal battle ensues.

Milkovich’s law is contingent on the court’s decision. The bill will go into effect only if Mississippi’s law is ruled constitutional.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, only 4 percent of abortions in the state in 2017 were performed after 15 weeks.

PHOTO: The House approved a bill by Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, to ban abortions later than 15 weeks after conception. (Photo by Justin DiCharia / LSU Manship School News Service)

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