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Louisiana Senate votes to increase abortion sonogram requirements

The Louisiana State Senate on Tuesday approved a bill [text] to change the requirements regarding ultrasounds before a woman can undergo an abortion, including a new requirement to listen to the fetus' heartbeat. Current state law already already requires an ultrasound two hours before the procedure, but the new legislation would require the ultrasound to be performed 24 hours in advance. The new amendments will now be voted on in the House and if passed would add the requirement that doctors, during the ultrasound, "make audible the fetal heartbeat, if present, in a quality consistent with current medical practice." It would also require an "objectively accurate verbal explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting, in a manner understandable to a layperson." This is a change from the current requirement of doctors being required to offer to give the explanation. The act's supporters claim these requirements are put in place to insure a women's full informed consent.

This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this month, Arizona passed a law limiting abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report]. That same month, a bill limiting insurance coverage for abortions [JURIST report] was passed in Wisconsin. In March, Utah passed a law [JURIST report] requiring a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours prior to obtaining the procedure. Also last month, the Idaho State Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] requiring a woman who is seeking an abortion to first receive an ultrasound. An Oklahoma court also struck down a similar law [JURIST report] last month.

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