Louisiana, Massachusetts Take Action On Abortion, Sex Education Measures

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Abortion, Sex Education Measures

The following highlights recent state actions on abortion and sex education-related legislation.

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Abortion

  • Louisiana: Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) on Friday signed two bills (HB 614, SB 161)that would ban so-called "partial birth" abortion in the state andcreate criminal penalties for physicians who perform the procedure, theNew Orleans Times-Picayune reports (Anderson, New Orleans Times-Picayune,7/14). Under the House bill, doctors who provide the procedure couldreceive fines up to $100,000 and jail sentences of up to 10 years. Theban would allow exceptions when the life of the pregnant woman is indanger (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/27). The Senate measure contains the same provisions as the House bill, but there are "slight differences" between the two, according to the Times-Picayune. Although both bills went into effect when Blanco signed them, the Louisiana Law Institute,a technical legal panel that works with the Legislature, willdistinguish the differences in the bill and codify the statutes, BlancoExecutive Counsel Terry Ryder said. He added that the Senate measuretakes precedence because it passed after the House bill. Blanco lastweek also signed a bill (HB 25)that would require a woman seeking an abortion to be told of theavailability of anesthesia, which would "eliminate or alleviate organicpain to the unborn child." The statute requires that the brochure givento women states that at 20 weeks' gestation "the unborn child has thephysical structures necessary to experience pain. ... Anesthesia isroutinely administered to unborn children who are 20 weeks' gestationalage or older who undergo prenatal surgery." The law takes effect Aug.15 (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7/14).

Sex Education

  • Louisiana: Blanco last week vetoed a provision of a state budget measure that would have provided $500,000 for the Louisiana Governor's Program on Abstinence, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. According to the Times-Picayune,the provision, which was added by Rep. Gary Beard (R), would have takeneffect only if the governor's program stopped receiving federalfunding. Blanco said she vetoed the measure because it could have forcecuts to other public health programs (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7/13).

Massachusetts:Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Thursday vetoed a provision in the statebudget measure that would have accepted a $700,000 federal grant forabstinence-only sex education classes, the Boston Herald reports (Fargen, Boston Herald, 7/13). According to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States,eight other states have rejected the funding, which requires that sexeducation curricula promote abstinence until marriage, and 12additional states are considering not applying for the grant. Inrejecting the funding, Patrick's administration cited a studycommissioned by Congress and released last month that found studentswho participate in abstinence-only programs are as likely to have sexas students who do not participate in the programs (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 5/7). According to the Herald, the Dorchester, Mass.-based Healthy Futures-- which teaches abstinence education to 7,000 middle school studentsannually -- will lose about $500,000, or about 50% of its annualbudget. Rep. Brad Jones (R) said he will call on the Republicanleadership in the Legislature to attempt to override Patrick's veto.However, Patrick could still decide not to apply for the grant if hisveto is overridden, the Herald reports (Boston Herald, 7/13).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Women's Health Policy Report, search thearchives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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