Sunday, June 18, 2006

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen BlancoBlanco signs law that would ban abortions

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen BlancoBlanco signs law that would ban abortions

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed into law a ban on most abortions, which would be triggered if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 ruling legalizing the procedure, a spokesman said on Saturday.

The ban would apply to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, except when the mother's life is threatened. It is similar to a South Dakota law that has become the latest focus of the abortion battle.

The South Dakota law was enacted partly to invite a court challenge in the hope a more conservative Supreme Court would overturn its Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to abortion.

The Louisiana ban would take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Medicaid, which provides health benefits for the poor and disabled, requires funding for abortions in cases of rape or incest. Louisiana would allow those exceptions so long as it was required for Medicaid funding.

Seven states have such abortion trigger laws, and Louisiana already had a trigger law, although abortion legislation has been blocked by courts. The new law would mean the ban would happen quicker in the case of a new Supreme Court decision.

Blanco cited "overwhelming" support for the bill in the state Legislature.

"The central provision of the bill supports and reflects my personal beliefs," she said in a statement, adding she had hoped for legislation with exceptions for rape and incest.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said lawmakers were focused on the wrong thing, especially as the state rebuilds from Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans last August.

"It is hard to believe that by passing this ban they are addressing what is most on the minds of most of the citizens of Louisiana," she told Reuters.

Most U.S. states have some limits on abortion linked to gestation of the fetus and often based on viability, essentially the ability to live outside the womb.