Personhood Bill Flounders In Louisiana

In another stinging defeat for the burgeoning “personhood” movement, a Louisiana personhood bill which would ban all abortions was defeated in the state legislature. The legislation, sponsored by Republican State Rep. John LaBruzzo, was hailed by Personhood USA as one of their best chances to pass a personhood law this year.

Personhood legislation gives legal rights to zygotes, banning all abortion without exception along with procedures to treat problem pregnancies, certain forms of contraception, and even in-vitro fertilization. Incidentally, the federal Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds for abortion procedures, was the rationale used by the bill’s opponents to table the measure to send it back to committee. Personhood USA lamented that “The Hyde Amendment had a chilling effect on prolife legislators.”

Personhood USA is still counting on Mississippi voters to pass a personhood amendment this November, a referendum backed by other Religious Right groups like the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel along with top Republican politicians. The Mississippi effort is led by a proponent of Christians creating their own separate, theocratic country in America. In 2006 and 2008, personhood amendments were overwhelmingly defeated in Colorado.

The Associated Press reports:

A Metairie lawmaker's attempt to force a direct challenge to the Roe v. Wade decision by banning abortion outright in Louisiana was derailed Wednesday to the House budget committee.

The 65-30 vote of the House to send Rep. John LaBruzzo's bill to the House Appropriations Committee could shelve the measure for the legislative session.

"This would basically defeat the bill by running out the clock," LaBruzzo said. Only two weeks remain in the legislative session. LaBruzzo is proposing to define a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, which would ban abortion entirely, in violation of current federal law. Anti-abortion groups are split on the worth of the idea.

Lawmakers who supported sending the bill to the Appropriations Committee cited the possibility it could jeopardize $4.5 billion in federal health care funding Louisiana receives for its Medicaid program. A financial analysis said the proposal would put Louisiana at odds with a 1976 federal law requiring Medicaid to cover abortion services to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, pushed for the diversion of the bill.

"I am truly and completely opposed to abortion, but that's off the table," he said.

LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, disagreed with the financial analysis done by the Legislative Fiscal Office.