US woman denied abortion wants clarification on Louisiana’s ‘vague’ ban | Political news

Nancy Davis, who is 15 weeks pregnant, says she plans to travel out of state for a “medically necessary” abortion.

A pregnant Louisiana woman who was denied an abortion — even though her fetus suffers from a rare and deadly condition — has asked Governor John Bel Edwards and the legislature to call a special session to clarify restrictions on the Status on the procedure.

Nancy Davis, who is 15 weeks pregnant, said Friday she will be out of state next week for a “medically necessary” abortion.

A current state law prohibits all abortions except where there is a substantial risk of death or disability to the woman if she continues the pregnancy and in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies. Davis, 36, and abortion rights advocates for months have criticized the legislation as vague and confusing.

Their concerns are echoed in many other states that, like Louisiana, passed so-called trigger laws when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion. .

About a dozen states currently ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with some allowing narrow exceptions such as rape, incest, or when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.

“Ms. Davis was among the first women to be caught in the crosshairs of confusion due to Louisiana’s rush to restrict abortion, but she won’t be the last,” said Ben Crump, an attorney for Davis. , during a press conference held on the state. Capitol steps Friday.

Ten weeks into Davis’ pregnancy, doctors at Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge diagnosed the fetus she carries with acrania, a rare and fatal condition in which the baby’s skull does not form in the womb. .

Davis learned that if she carried the pregnancy to term and gave birth, the baby would likely survive for a very short time — anywhere from a few minutes to a week. Doctors advised Davis to have an abortion, but said they could not perform the procedure.

“They basically said I had to carry my baby to bury my baby,” Davis said. “They seemed confused about the law and scared of what was about to happen to them.”

If a doctor performs an illegal abortion in Louisiana, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

In a statement last week to news organizations, spokeswoman Caroline Isemann said the Women’s Hospital was unable to comment on a specific patient, but reiterated that the hospital’s mission was to provide the “best possible care of women” while respecting state laws and policies. .

Since then, the law’s author, Sen. Katrina Jackson, and other lawmakers have said Davis was entitled to an abortion and that the hospital had “grossly misinterpreted” the law. Yet in a written statement signed Tuesday by Jackson and 35 others, including nine other women, they said many of them share a religious faith that “would compel us to carry this child to term.”

Davis and his lawyers said they blamed not the doctors, but the vagueness of the law.

“The law is clear as mud,” Crump said. “Every woman’s situation is different and subject to interpretation, so of course medical professionals don’t want to risk jail time or having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for making the wrong call. Who would take someone’s word for it when their freedom is in jeopardy?

A lawsuit filed by an abortion clinic in Shreveport and others has been ongoing since the new law took effect. The legislation was in turn blocked and then enforced as the suit progressed through the courts. The most recent decision allowed the application of the law. Plaintiffs challenging the ban do not deny that the state can now ban abortions; they argue that the provisions of the law are contradictory and unconstitutionally vague.

Although Davis hasn’t filed a complaint or lawsuit, she wants Louisiana lawmakers to hold a special session to clarify the law. Their next regular session is scheduled for April 2023.

“Imagine how many women can be affected before [lawmakers] come back in session,” Crump said. “How many more Nancy Davis will have to endure mental anguish and mental cruelty before lawmakers clear up these vague and ambiguous laws.”

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