Jindal signs abortion regulations

Published 11:30 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Women getting abortions in Louisiana will be required to get ultrasounds, and doctors who perform elective abortions won’t be covered under medical malpractice laws after Gov. Bobby Jindal signed those latest restrictions on the procedure into law Tuesday.

Also signed by Jindal, according to the governor’s office, was a ban on coverage for elective abortions in the insurance purchasing pools set up by the federal health overhaul legislation.

No exceptions are allowed under any of the bills for victims of rape or incest. The only exceptions are for abortions when a mother’s life is in danger.

Each measure prompted opposition that it would further restrict access for women, but the ultrasound requirement received the most vigorous debate during the recently ended legislative session.

Supporters said they hope it can dissuade some women from getting an abortion by having to learn more about their pregnancies.

Opponents said requiring a procedure that might not be available at a free clinic nearby will make it more difficult and costly for women to get abortions.

An ultrasound at health care facilities around the state can cost anywhere from $80 to more than $300, depending on the location, according to a review of health care pricing websites for hospitals and clinics in Louisiana.

It was unclear how significant the change will really be, however. Testimony from both sides indicated more than 95 percent of women who get abortions in Louisiana already had ultrasounds performed, without the requirement in place.

The bill by Sen. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, requires that women know they have the option to hear a description of what is seen in the ultrasound, to receive a photograph of the ultrasound image and to view the ultrasound.