House balks at life-support bill revamp

The Louisiana House on Thursday rejected a state Senate revamp of a bill that would require a pregnant woman be kept alive so the unborn child has a chance at life.

The Senate amended the measure to give families the right to decide whether to remove life supports.

The House on a 90-0 vote rejected the Senate’s family rights change.

House Bill 1274 now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate-passed version.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, said there’s a need to “work out some language.”

Badon’s bill would require physicians to keep a dying pregnant woman on life support to permit fetal development and a live birth.

The Senate altered the measure to say that nothing would interfere with the rights of the spouse, children, parents or siblings of a woman to make end-of-life decisions.

The debate has been framed in “pro-life, pro-choice” terms.

The Senate had voted 20-18 on an amendment to give families preference in end-of-life decisions for the pregnant woman.

State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said families — not the government — should make such decisions.

Badon’s bill is similar to a state law in Texas that generated national headlines in the case of a brain dead Fort Worth woman whose family wanted to end her life. She remained on life support for two months while the issue went to court. The court ultimately ordered the hospital to unplug life-sustaining machines.

In other action, the House sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk a bill that would expand the information given to women seeking abortions to include potential psychological and emotional impacts.

House Bill 1262, sponsored by state Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Central, also would require information about illegal coercion, abuse and human trafficking to be provided via separate booklets on each subject.

Final legislative approval came on an 87-0 vote as the House agreed to Senate changes, including one that would eliminate the requirements when the life of the mother is at stake.

Follow Marsha Shuler on Twitter, @MarshaShulerCNB. For more coverage of the state capitol, follow Louisiana Politics at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/.