Yesterday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) appeared at the First Baptist Church of West Monroe to sign HB 636, a measure that "requires women to be informed of their specific legal rights and options before they undergo an abortion procedure." Abortion providers will now have to post signs around their facilities stating that "it is illegal to coerce a woman into getting an abortion, that the child's father must provide child support, that certain agencies can assist them during and after the pregnancy and that adoptive parents can pay some of the medical costs." The law also creates a Department of Health and Hospitals website and a mobile platform to deliver information "about public and private pregnancy resources" for avoiding abortions.
Jindal said he couldn't understand why anyone would oppose the bill, comparing the new notices to Miranda warnings for women who receive abortions - a constitutionally protected procedure - to criminals:
"When officers arrest criminals today, they are read their rights," he said. "Now if we're giving criminals their basic rights and they have to be informed of those rights, it seems to me only common sense we would have to do the same thing for women before they make the choice about whether to get an abortion."
The analogy, however, may be somewhat apt, since Louisiana already has some of the harshest anti-choice laws in the country. According to NARAL, the state still has an unconstitutional and unenforceable measure that prohibits abortion by anyone other than the woman unless necessary to preserve the woman's life or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Louisiana outlaws second-trimester abortion procedure with no exception to protect a woman's health and in 2006 "enacted a near-total ban on abortion, to become effective if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade."
Under the state's Right To Know law, abortion providers in Louisiana are already required to distribute pamphlets with information about pregnancy, termination, and alternatives. Women must also sign a statement that they have received the state information and are not being coerced into an abortion before undergoing the procedure.