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Louisiana

Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

A woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 24 hours after the attending or referring physician tells her, orally, in person, and in private:  (1) a description of the proposed method; (2) the alternatives to abortion; (3) the probable gestational age of the fetus and, if the fetus is viable or has reached the gestational age of 24 weeks, that the "unborn child" may be able to survive outside the womb, the woman has the right to request the physician to use the method most likely to preserve the life of the fetus, and that if the "unborn child is born alive," attending physicians are legally obligated to take "all reasonable steps necessary to maintain the life and health of the child"; (4) the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus; (5) the risks associated with abortion and with carrying the pregnancy to term; and (6) the name of the physician who will provide the abortion.

In addition, at least 24 hours prior to a scheduled abortion, the woman must receive:  (1) orally, in person, and in private, a state-mandated lecture from a physician, registered nurse, licensed social worker, psychologist, or licensed counselor that includes that:  (a) medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; (b) the "father" of the fetus is liable for child support even if he has offered to pay for the abortion; and (c) she may withhold/withdraw her consent without loss of any state or federally funded benefits; and (2) state-prepared materials that:  (a) describe with color drawings or pictures the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the "unborn child" at two-week gestational increments, including the possibility of survival; (b) describe methods and medical risks associated with each method and with carrying a pregnancy to term; (c) provide a comprehensive list of public and private agencies and services that are available to women through pregnancy and childbirth, including adoption agencies and "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) that many harass and intimidate women, and/or intentionally give medically inaccurate information about contraception and pregnancy options; (d) provide information about medical assistance benefits for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care and the "father's" support obligations; (e) state that a physician who provides an abortion without a woman's "informed" consent may be liable to her for damages in a civil action; (f) indicate that the law permits adoptive parents to pay the costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; and (g) include the following statement:  "There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you to carry your child to term, and to assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or place her or him for adoption.  The state of Louisiana strongly urges you to contact them before making a final decision about abortion.  The law requires that your physician or his agent give you the opportunity to call agencies like these before you undergo an abortion." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:1299.35.6 (Enacted 1978; Last Amended 2011).

The physician or qualified person must provide the state-prepared materials to the woman, or, in the case of a minor patient, to the woman's parent, separately and in a private room, and must obtain her signature on a form certifying receipt.  The form shall be kept with the woman's medical records for a period of at least seven years.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1299.35.5.2 (Enacted 2014).

The state must create and maintain printed and online materials containing a comprehensive list of public and private agencies and services that are available to women through pregnancy and childbirth, including adoption agencies and anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs).  The state must also ensure that the agencies listed are not affiliated with an abortion provider, and that the health professionals or counselors working at the listed agencies are able to provide counseling services that "objectively address the mental, emotional, and behavioral health effects" associated with seeking or obtaining abortion services.  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1299.35.5.2 (Enacted 2014).

The governor must convene a task force to assist the health department in creating the state-prepared materials. The task force must be comprised of: (1) a psychologist; (2) a physician; (3) a clinical social worker; (4) two Louisiana residents associated with "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) that many harass and intimidate women, and/or intentionally give medically inaccurate information about contraception and pregnancy options; (5) two attorneys who specialize in representing women "at risk of being coerced into or psychologically harmed by abortion;" (6) the director of the Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force; (7) two representatives from a residential program for women who have experienced sexual exploitation; (8) two members of the state senate; (9) two members of the state house; and (10) the secretary of the state health department. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1299.35.5.2 (Enacted 2014).

If a woman is considering abortion as a result of rape or incest she is to be offered the same "informed consent" information, but without the 24-hour delay. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:1299.35.7 (Enacted 1994; Last Amended 2005).
The state-prepared materials include enlarged color photographs of fetuses.  La. Dep't Of Health & Hosps., Abortion: Making A Decision (undated), at http://www.dhh.state.la.us/PDF/Abortion-MakingaDecision.pdf.

Until November 2004, the state-prepared materials included medically inaccurate information linking abortion to increased risk of breast cancer.  Because the link has been proven false, Louisiana removed this information from its materials.  Richard Webster, Alleged Link Between Breast Cancer, Abortion Spurs Debate, New Orleans City Bus., Nov. 22, 2004.


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