Louisiana gets more attention on the national stage now, and not good attention, because of the extreme “no exceptions” ban on abortions adopted by our state.
When a Missouri U.S. Senate candidate, Todd Akin, made offensive remarks about rape, his GOP counterparts recoiled in horror. They pushed Akin, so far unsuccessfully, to drop out of the race.
The National Review, a major conservative organ, immediately asked Akin to drop out, to be replaced by a more viable Republican candidate in the key race. But the National Review incorrectly said that were the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to be overturned, no state would ban abortion in cases of rape.
Louisiana law in fact has a “trigger” that should Roe be overturned, abortion would be banned in all cases — automatically. That would mean abortion would be illegal in cases of rape or incest.
We have deplored this extreme position since this became an issue in the Legislature during the 1990s. But the Legislature and Gov. Bobby Jindal today appear committed to this policy, and it has considerable backing in the GOP nationally. This is a significant change from long-standing party policy that exceptions be allowed for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
The good news: Republican nominee Mitt Romney has recoiled from this extremist view.
Romney’s running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, is one of the GOP lawmakers — including those in the Louisiana delegation — who have backed “pro-life” bills in Congress that would appear to have the same effect, that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. But Romney has, in the wake of the Akin controversy, overruled this position.
“Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Romney’s campaign pledged.
We commend Romney for taking this position. While people can sharply disagree about the politics of abortion, the extreme position espoused by Louisiana law means that women would be victimized twice: by the rapist and again by laws that require carrying the rapist’s child to term.