July 7, 2011 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Wednesday signed a bill (HB 636) into law that requires the state to make information about abortion and pregnancy options available online and mandates that clinics post signs stating, among other things, that it is illegal to force a woman to have an abortion, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports (Barrow, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7/7). The signs also must state that private and public agencies can provide support during and after pregnancy; that fathers are liable for child support; and that adoptive parents may cover medical costs associated with pregnancy.
Current state law requires abortion providers to give women pamphlets from the health department with information about pregnancy, abortion and alternatives. Women also are required to sign a statement 24 hours before the abortion procedure indicating that they have received the information and are not being coerced into an abortion. The new law applies to abortion clinics but not to hospitals or other health care facilities that sometimes provide abortion care in medical emergencies (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/22).
Planned Parenthood, which does not offer abortion services in Louisiana, said the law patronizes women and interferes with patient-doctor communication. The organization opposes language that "urges (a woman) to consult an independent physician about the risks of abortion to [her] physical and psychological well-being." The law also includes rhetorical changes, including the use of "unborn child" rather than "fetus," and "abortion provider" rather than "physician." It also requires clinics to pay for interpreters to ensure that women understand the pre-abortion counseling (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7/7).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.