Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal may sign a bill that would require hospitals to keep pregnant women on life support, regardless of their families' wishes.
The bill, entitled House Bill 1274, recently passed Louisiana's Senate with a vote of 31 to 2, and the House with a vote of 87 to 1. The bill states that women who are 20-weeks pregnant and beyond must be kept on life support, regardless of the wishes of their family.
The only circumstance in which a pregnant woman could be removed from life support is if she clearly stated in her will "do not resuscitate" while pregnant. The bill states that doctors must ultimately make the decision to end life support depending on the viability of the fetus, but they must err on the side of saving the unborn child.
State Rep. Austin Badon (D), the sponsor of the bill, has said he chose to introduce the legislation following an incident in Texas earlier this year, when Erick Munoz fought to have his pregnant wife taken off of life support after she collapsed in their kitchen from a pulmonary embolism, rendering her brain dead. The hospital kept Marlise Munoz on life support for nearly two months to save her fetus, but her husband eventually won a lawsuit and his wife was taken off life support in January 2014.
"In this (legislative) body […] we deal with what-ifs," Badon previously argued, referencing how the Texas case influenced his decision to file HB 1274. "Do we really want to pull the plug of that healthy baby?"
During the Senate floor debate, an amendment was proposed that would make House Bill 1274 have an exception that allowed family members to determine the rights of their pregnant relative on life support. The amendment was approved by the Senate, but was later stripped by a six-person conference committee. Although the committee's house and senate members stripped the amendment, they did change the bill to only require women who are 20 weeks pregnant to be kept on life support. The original text of the bill required all pregnant women to be kept alive.
Although the bill does not mention the term "abortion," some groups have argued that the legislation further impedes a woman's reproductive rights. "Pregnancies are complicated. Each one is different, and when women suffer unimaginable tragedies in our pregnancies that render us incapable of making our own decisions, those are best left to those who know and love us and to the medical professionals who are charged with our care," lyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told The Huffington Post.
A spokesperson for Gov. Jindal's office told MSNBC that the legislation is awaiting a "thorough review," although many have predicted Jindal will pass the bill into law.