Louisiana's leading anti-abortion organization does not support a bill set for a Thursday vote that would qualify abortion as murder under state law.
"Our long-standing policy is that abortion-vulnerable women should not be treated as criminals," Louisiana Right to Life said in a Friday statement, noting that the bill criminalizes abortion seekers. "Instead, we should hold accountable the individuals performing the abortion or selling or providing the chemical abortion drugs."
The group's statement centers on the "Abolition of Abortion in Louisiana Act" (H.B. 813), a Republican-backed state bill that would punish abortion-seekers with a crime that carries a life sentence in prison. It establishes that life begins "from the moment of fertilization," calling an unborn child "an individual human being from fertilization until birth." The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Danny McCormick, was passed out of committee earlier this month and is scheduled to be considered Thursday for a floor debate by the full House, according to The Daily Advertiser.
"Murder is murder," McCormick told USA Today. "It's real simple. We're having the debate about whether the pre-born have the same protections as the born."
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While Louisiana Right to Life opposes criminalizing abortion-seekers, it still supports making the provision of abortion a criminal offense. The group is currently backing a S.B. 342, which, according to The Illuminator, would make it easier to punish anyone who performs an abortion. The legislation would also make abortion punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for abortions after 15 weeks into pregnancy.
Pastor Brian Gunter of Livingston First Baptist expressed disapproval with the group's position, telling a Fox affiliate that it was "being inconsistent and not following their pro-life ethic."
He added that "if you don't want to end abortion and criminalize it, you're saying that some people can be killed without criminal consequences."
But other religious groups are also speaking out against the crackdown.
The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose board comprises the bishops in charge of the seven Roman Catholic dioceses in Louisiana, came out against the legislation on Tuesday, according to The Advocate.
Both bills come as part of a broader Republican crusade to restrict abortion in every state across the country. Last week, Politico reported that the Supreme Court has already voted to informally overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling establishing America's constitutional right to abortion.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 23 states already have abortion bans on their books and 13 have "trigger laws" that would immediately ban all or nearly all abortions if Roe is overturned.