The New York Times - Two Anti-Abortion Bills Pass by Big Margins In Louisiana House

News Article

By:  Buddy Roemer III
Date: May 15, 1991
Location: 

The State House of Representatives here has approved two measures that would mandate long prison terms for people who perform abortions.

Both of the bills, which were approved Monday, now go to the State Senate.

One measure would allow abortions in the case of rape or incest; it passed 71 to 32. The other bill would permit abortions only to save the life of the mother; it passed 68 to 33.

Gov. Buddy Roemer, who vetoed stringent anti-abortion legislation last year, has said he would veto any measure that did not include exceptions for rape or incest. 'Honoring Women'

He said he wanted his lawyers to study the current measure, with the exceptions, "to see if we are honoring women." He also said he would like the bill more if lawmakers added an exception for women with deformed fetuses.

Under the proposal introduced by Representative Sam Theriot, a Democrat, abortions would be allowed in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy to save the life of the mother, or if she could show she was a victim of rape or incest.

Without those three exceptions, the penalty for doctors who performed abortion would be a fine of up to $100,000 and a prison sentence of up to 10 years at hard labor. 15-Year Prison Terms

The stricter measure, sponsored by Representtive Woody Jenkins, a Democrat, would allow abortion only to save the life of a mother. Doctors who violated the law would be imprisoned for up to 15 years. There is no provision for a fine.

Neither measure calls for punishing pregnant women.

Representative Theriot said there was a split among anti-abortion forces, with one faction insisting on very stringent laws and the other "wanting to face reality."

His bill is supported by the Louisiana bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and the Louisiana Right to Life Association.

Terri Bartlett, president of Planned Parenthood of Louisiana, said her group was concerned that with the proposed penalties, "no physician will perform any abortion at all, regardless of exceptions."