Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.

The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.

I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:

House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.

Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.

Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.

But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.

10 Responses to Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

  • Jay Anderson says:

    “They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things.”

    Michael, you hit the nail squarely on the head there, my friend. And it wasn’t just in the Obamacare fight. We saw the same thing during the 2008 election when formerly solid pro-lifers abandoned the principled positions they once held regarding the necessity of pursuing a legal regime that protects the unborn in law and decided to play the pro-choice Catholic game of pursuing left-wing “quality-of-life” measures that allegedly “reduce” the so-called “need” for abortion.

    Examine the things Kmiec, Cafardi, et al said during the 2008 election to justify their support of the pro-abortion Obama, and it basically comes down to the problem you identify: they appeared to have despaired of the ability of the pro-life agenda and the efforts of pro-lifers to bring about change (never mind just holding the line against the encroaching culture of death). Either that or they were flakes hoping to latch onto the hopey-changey bandwagon. Probably a little of both.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “due to its high population of Catholics, (Louisiana) is the most pro-life state”

    By that measure, Rhode Island ought to be the most pro-life state in the Union since nearly 60 percent of its residents are Catholic (2006 figures).

    According to this chart, Louisiana, with 26.1 percent Catholic residents, is only #12 on the list of “most Catholic” states (based on pre-Katrina 2005 population figures):

    http://www.askacatholic.com/_whatsnew/myfavorites2/catholic_population.cfm#percentage

    A question that really begs to be asked is, why are at least 8 of the top 10 “most Catholic” states on the list controlled or dominated by liberal, pro-abort (not to mention corrupt) Democrats?

  • T. Shaw says:

    I can only imagine St. Peter’s verdict on our betters’ male-of-the-bovine-species-feces rationals for advancing untrammeled mass exterminations of millions of unborn babies; ESCR; gay marriage; and public schools’ immoral brainwashing of a hundred million American youth.

    We can pray for them. As long as they live there is the chance they may come to a better mind that the sanctity of human life is more vital than the secular human, progressive agenda, i.e., socialism (which is mass brigandage).

    These are the teachings of the Popes, including the current Pope who promulgated a list of four non-negotiables which were wilfully ignored by 54% of catholics, including bishops.

    Kmiec was named ambassador to Malta. He thought he’d get the Vatican . . . [heh] I think Malta is the most Catholic nation on the planet, and the Maltese should have turned him away.

  • Eric Brown says:

    “Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.”

    The restrictions are not contrary to the statues written into law, so there is no reason it would be challenged in court.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Michael on this — more states need to follow this example. Though as a native Texan, Michael could not be more wrong on what state is the greatest in the Union.

    However it would be intellectually dishonest for it not to be mentioned that Louisiana’s new law is not a slap-in-the-face to the federal government.

    During the health care debate last year, the U.S. House adopted at the last minute a measure (the Stupak Amendment) that would prohibit any insurance plan sold in the exchanges from including policies that cover abortion, whether public (when the “public option” was on the table) or private.

    In the Senate, there were not a sufficient number of pro-life votes to adopt a federal-wide policy like the Stupak Amendment to ban abortion in the exchanges. The vote on such an amendment only garnered 38 Republican votes and 7 Democrats. The final compromise (because Senator Nelson did not hold out) was that each state would be allowed to enact an abortion ban in its exchanges as well as opt to ban abortion in any private insurance plan sold in the state period (which was already existing law; it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any plan in Missouri prior to the health care debate).

    This law that is on the brink of passage in Louisiana has already passed in Tennessee and is the law. In other words, the state legislatures are merely acting within the frame of “ObamaCare” and what they are doing is acting on a provision that was explicitly written into the bill. It was known without any ambiguity before the bill passed that states were going to be able to do this. It was not some “obscure” provision (as Fox News recently put it) because I recall it (the “Senate compromise” as the NRTL termed it) being rejected by pro-life groups that insisted that the Stupak Amendment was the only acceptable option.

    Quite honestly, I opposed the final bill and I think there was great reason to do so. But I am somewhat dismayed that there was so much information, mostly “talking points”, both true and false, circulating that people were unaware of how actual policies would look when they materialized.

    I’m not trying to take a shot at anyone here particularly. If it seems that way, I truly apologize. But I have honestly lost some trust in groups that condemned this very compromise the day it was unveiled and are now today celebrating its existence.

    I suppose this was God’s gift of a window, when it seemed to the pro-life mind that a door had closed when the bill passed.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric:

    I agree that this isn’t a slap in the face to Obamacare.

    As you point out though, states could already do this before Obamacare. I do have to give Obamacare credit if permission is explicitly written into the law (I didn’t know that before). That said, I’m still uncomfortable with the money that the federal government does pay when states don’t ban abortion in the exchange.

    Elaine:

    My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics. Why Louisiana has retained this while many of the states in the list have more secular versions of Catholicism is an interesting question, though I imagine Louisiana’s culture (Acadiana for example) has done much to retain it.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics”

    I suspect the active Catholic culture of New Orleans and Cajun country has a lot to do with this. However, there was an equally active Catholic culture among the Irish in New York and Boston, among French Canadians in New England, and among Italians, Poles, and other ethnic groups in Chicago, Philly, Milwaukee, etc.

    One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

  • One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

    Bobby Jindal is Catholic and almost beat Blanco the first time he ran for governor (when he came out of nowhere), then spent the 4 years in between courting the Protestant North Louisiana by convincing them he wasn’t crazy (and not a Muslim, which seemed to be a problem up there). So it’s not Jindal needed a dramatic change via Katrina to win.

    The bulk of the population loss in Louisiana was African-American (from what we can tell). Most of that was probably Protestant, as the majority of the African-american community is Protestant. We also had an influx of immigrants who came looking for the construction jobs (we’re not sure how many of them are still around or whether they moved on), but that would be a more Catholic influx. So if anything, Louisiana may have become more Catholic rather than Protestant.

    It’s also worth noting that at this point, the only prominent pro-abortion politicians are the Landrieus (Sen. Mary and Mayor of New Orleans Mitch) which has for a long time been the most prominent political family in the state. This means that across both Protestant North Louisiana and Catholic South Louisiana, most of the politicians are pro-life. That might change when the New Orleans votes out Cao and puts in an African-American democrat but both Protestants and Catholics seem to be strongly united on the pro-life side of the abortion issue.

  • Eric Brown says:

    “Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?”

    I am not a constitutional law scholar, but I don’t see any reason it should be overturned in court — and if it were challenged, I think we (pro-lifers) would have a pretty good case.

    States do not make it illegal for private insurance to sell abortion coverage, but states can and do regulate how they offer it. For example, in Missouri before the health care debate it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any private insurance policy — it always had to be a “rider” or supplemental policy that is bought in addition to any health plan, paid for in a strictly separate manner. The goal was to protect the conscience of other citizens in the state so that they would not be directly or indirectly subsidizing abortion by funding a risk pool that covers such an evil.

    In the exchanges, it would have the same effect — no insurance company could sell abortion as a primary benefit, but if someone opted to have abortion coverage, they would have to purchase a “rider” with their own funds on top of the comprehensive plan they bought into. This was precisely what the Stupak language would have done at the national level. Obviously we did not get that in the Senate, so the best bet (given that the bill passed) is to have each state pass Stupak-like legislation.

    This issue, in effect, is very similar to the Medicaid problem. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal dollars cannot be used to subsidize abortions through Medicaid. But Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. 32 states follow the federal government’s initiative and don’t fund abortion except for the three infamous exceptions. However, 17 states use state funds — and I’m not assure about the accounting methods and how it is kept, if it is at all, separate from federal funds — to cover all “medically necessary” abortions, which really means any and all abortions.

    So this legislation, though very imperfect, has brought the abortion fight back to the states and it is at the state level, by and large, that pro-life gains occur the most.

    We should count our blessings.

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