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Louisiana governor signs law to increase abortion restrictions

Louisiana Governor Bob Jindal [official website] signed a bill [SB 708 text; materials] on Friday increasing abortion restrictions in the state. The bill was approved by the Senate [JURIST report] in April as a measure to ensure informed consent for women seeking abortions. The new legislation increases the waiting period between a mandatory ultrasound and the procedure itself from 2 to 24 hours. The doctor must also describe the visible features on the ultrasound and "make audible" the heartbeat of the fetus when possible. The governor signed a second piece of legislation [SB 330 text; materials] making it a criminal offense to perform an abortion without a medical license. In a statement [press release] Jindal said he believed the new laws would "foster a culture of life in Louisiana."

This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder]. In May, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs [JURIST report] that they "reasonably believe" might result in the termination of a pregnancy. Earlier that month, a judge for the District Court of Oklahoma County ruled that a law restricting how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients was a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. In April, the Arizona House of Representatives approved a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks [JURIST report] into a pregnancy, with an exception carved out only for medical emergencies. In March, Utah passed a law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours [JURIST report] prior to obtaining the procedure.

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