Since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973, the national debate surrounding abortion laws has divided the country. Under Roe, women have had a Constitutional right to choose whether to end a pregnancy during the first trimester, and abortion in the United States has remained legal.
That being said, states are permitted to regulate certain aspects of abortion including the ability to impose counseling, waiting periods, and other requirements. Generally speaking, it is much more difficult to have an abortion after the second trimester, unless the mother's life or health is in danger.
Louisiana's "Fetal Heartbeat" Law
Louisiana's governor signed a bill in May 2019 that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (about six weeks into a pregnancy) and which provides no exception for those who become pregnant because of a rape or incest. Under the text of the bill, the law only takes effect upon resolution of a federal appeals court case addressing a similar Mississippi law.
Note: Even if this law goes into effect, it will still be subject to judicial review in state or federal courts. The courts can delay implementation of the law during the period of judicial review and can ultimately overturn the law if it's found to be unconstitutional.
Louisiana Abortion Laws at a Glance
Reading an overview of the law can be very helpful in better understanding the details included in the actual statute. In the following chart, you can find a summary of abortion laws in Louisiana as well as links to relevant statutes.
Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 14, Chapter 1, Part II, Subpart A-1:
Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 40, Chapter 5, Section 1061, et seq. (Health Provisions: Abortion)
|Definition of Criminal Abortion||
A criminal abortion is defined as an abortion performed by a person who isn't a physician licensed by Louisiana and results in the death of an unborn baby. An abortion can be classified as criminal whether it was done with or without the consent of the pregnant woman or her legal guardian.
|Penalty for Criminal Abortion||Any person who knowingly performs a criminal abortion can be imprisoned at hard labor for between one to five years and/or fined $5,000 to $50,000.|
All women must give informed consent to an abortion at least 72 hours before the abortion. However, if a woman certifies in writing that she lives at least 150 miles away from a licensed outpatient abortion facility then the written consent must be given at least 24 hours before the abortion.
A physician may perform an abortion on a girl under 18 years of age (who hasn't been emancipated judicially or by marriage) only if the physician has received one of the following:
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Louisiana Abortion Laws: Related Resources
For additional information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.
Additional Questions About Louisiana Abortion Laws? Speak to a Lawyer
The choice to have an abortion can have serious emotional and legal consequences. If you'd like legal assistance with an abortion matter, or just want to know your rights and responsibilities, you can contact an experienced health care attorney in Louisiana.
Contact a qualified attorney.