The Louisiana Senate advanced legislation Tuesday that would require a woman to receive an obstetrics ultrasound before an abortion.
The Senate voted 33-4 for the bill — a watered-down version of original legislation that would have required the woman to view the ultrasound, listen to a description of what was being seen and get a copy of the print.
“We have compromised on this bill. We still have a bill that will empower women with information if they choose to receive it,” said state Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge. “The woman has the choice.”
Broome said the state needs to continue down the road it started 15 years ago when it passed the “Women’s Right to Know” law. That law requires that women be informed of possible physical and psychological risks involved at least 24 hours before an abortion.
The ultrasound legislation would once again provide information to women “before they make a critical decision such as this,” Broome said.
State Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, questioned why a woman should go to the expense of an ultrasound if they opted not to see the ultrasound or get a copy of the print.
“We are imposing a mandate on a procedure that is legal. It seems to me we should consider not only the reasonableness of it but whether or not it makes sense,” said Peterson.
She said the woman can opt out of everything except having the ultrasound performed.
State Sen. David Heitmeier, D-New Orleans, asked the Senate to allow physicians to make the call about whether an ultrasound is needed. He said 95 percent of physicians today find the need to order the procedures.
“Let’s not dictate what they have to do,” said Heitmeier. “Allow the physician to take care of the patient.”
The state Senate rejected Heitmeier’s proposal with nine senators voting for it and 28 against.
State Sen. Nick Gautreaux, D-Meaux, said the legislation should be expanded to allow the fathers of the unborn child to have the opportunity to see the ultrasound.
“By seeing that, something may change a young man’s life,” said Gautreaux.
As introduced, the legislation would have mirrored a new Oklahoma law imposing one of the strictest abortion requirements in the nation.
The Oklahoma law has already been legally challenged as a violation of a woman’s right to privacy and guarantee of equal protection. The national Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit.
SB528 was rewritten in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
State Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, the main mover behind the changes to give women the option of receiving ultrasound information, got assurances from Broome that she would not change the bill as it moved through the legislative process.
Broome told state senators that the legislation before them Tuesday lived up to that commitment. She proposed an amendment to make technical changes which McPherson agreed to.
SB528 now heads to the House for debate.
VOTING FOR THE ULTRASOUND (33): Sens Adley, Alario, Amedee, Appel, Broome, Chabert, Cheek, Claitor, Crowe, Donahue, Duplessis, Erdey, B. Gautreaux, N. Gautreaux, Guillory, Hebert, Heitmeier, Kostelka, LaFleur, Long, Martiny, McPherson, Michot, Morrell, Morrish, Mount, Nevers, Quinn, Riser, Shaw, Smith, Thompson and Walsworth.
VOTING AGAINST THE ULTRASOUND (4): — Sens Dorsey, Jackson, Murray and Peterson.
NOT VOTING (2): President Chaisson and Sen. Marionneaux.