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      RS 40:1061.1     

  

§1061.1. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

            A. This Section may be cited as the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act".

            B. Legislative intent. (1) The legislature makes the following findings:

            (a) Pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child's entire body and nerves link these receptors to the brain's thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than twenty weeks.

            (b) By eight weeks after fertilization, the unborn child reacts to touch. After twenty weeks, the unborn child reacts to stimuli that would be recognized as painful if applied to an adult human, for example, by recoiling.

            (c) In the unborn child, application of such painful stimuli is associated with significant increases in stress hormones known as the stress response.

            (d) Subjection to such painful stimuli is associated with long-term harmful neurodevelopmental effects, such as altered pain sensitivity and, possibly, emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities later in life.

            (e) For the purposes of surgery on unborn children, fetal anesthesia is routinely administered and is associated with a decrease in stress hormones compared to their level when painful stimuli are applied without such anesthesia.

            (f) The position, asserted by some medical experts, that the unborn child is incapable of experiencing pain until a point later in pregnancy than twenty weeks after fertilization predominately rests on the assumption that the ability to experience pain depends on the cerebral cortex and requires nerve connections between the thalamus and the cortex. However, recent medical research and analysis, especially since 2007, provides strong evidence for the conclusion that a functioning cortex is not necessary to experience pain.

            (g) Substantial evidence indicates that children born missing the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain.

            (h) In adults, stimulation or ablation of the cerebral cortex does not alter pain perception, while stimulation or ablation of the thalamus does.

            (i) Substantial evidence indicates that structures used for pain processing in early development differ from those of adults, using different neural elements available at specific times during development, such as the subcortical plate, to fulfill the role of pain processing.

            (j) The position, asserted by some medical experts, that the unborn child remains in a coma-like sleep state that precludes the unborn child's experiencing pain is inconsistent with the documented reaction of unborn children to painful stimuli and with the experience of fetal surgeons who have found it necessary to sedate the unborn child with anesthesia to prevent the unborn child from thrashing about in reaction to invasive surgery.

            (k) Consequently, there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by twenty weeks after fertilization.

            (2)(a) It is the purpose of the state to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.

            (b) Louisiana's compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain is intended to be separate from and independent of Louisiana's compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage of viability, and neither state interest is intended to replace the other.

            (3) Mindful of Leavitt v. Jane L., 518 U.S. 137 (1996), in which in the context of determining the severability of a state statute regulating abortion the United States Supreme Court noted that an explicit statement of legislative intent specifically made applicable to a particular statute is of greater weight than a general savings or severability clause, it is the intent of the state that if any one or more provisions, sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, phrases or words of this Section or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is found to be unconstitutional, the same is hereby declared to be severable and the balance of this Section shall remain effective notwithstanding such unconstitutionality. Moreover, the state declares that it would have passed this Section, and each provision, section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or word thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more provisions, sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, phrases or words, or any of their applications, were to be declared unconstitutional.

            C. Definitions. For purposes of this Section, the following terms shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

            (1) "Abortion" means the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth, or to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of natural causes in utero, accidental trauma, or a criminal assault on the pregnant woman or her unborn child, and which causes the premature termination of the pregnancy.

            (2) "Attempt to perform or induce an abortion" means an act, or an omission of a statutorily required act, that, under the circumstances as the actor believes them to be, constitutes a substantial step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in the performance or induction of an abortion in this state in violation of this Section.

            (3) "Department" means Louisiana Department of Health.

            (4) "Fertilization" means the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.

            (5) "Medical emergency" means a condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman that it necessitates the immediate abortion of her pregnancy without first determining postfertilization age to avert her death or for which the delay necessary to determine postfertilization age will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

            (6) "Medically futile" means that, in reasonable medical judgment, the unborn child has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth.

            (7) "Physician" means any person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery in the state of Louisiana.

            (8) "Postfertilization age" means the age of the unborn child as calculated from the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.

            (9) "Probable postfertilization age of the unborn child" means what, in reasonable medical judgment, will with reasonable probability be the postfertilization age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is planned to be performed or induced.

            (10) "Reasonable medical judgment" means a medical judgment that would be made by a reasonably prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the treatment possibilities with respect to the medical conditions involved.

            (11) "Unborn child" or "fetus" each mean an individual organism of the species homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth.

            (12) "Woman" means a female human being whether or not she has reached the age of majority.

            D. Determination of postfertilization age.

            (1) Except in the case of a medical emergency or when a pregnancy is diagnosed as medically futile, no abortion shall be performed or induced or be attempted to be performed or induced unless the physician performing or inducing it has first made a determination of the probable postfertilization age of the unborn child or relied upon such a determination made by another physician. In making such a determination, the physician shall make such inquiries of the woman and perform or cause to be performed such medical examinations and tests as a reasonably prudent physician, knowledgeable about the case and the medical conditions involved, would consider necessary to perform in making an accurate diagnosis with respect to postfertilization age.

            (2) Failure by any physician to conform to any requirement of this Section constitutes "unprofessional conduct" pursuant to R.S. 37:1261.

            E. Abortion of unborn child of twenty or more weeks postfertilization age prohibited.

            (1) No person shall perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion upon a woman when it has been determined, by the physician performing or inducing or attempting to perform or induce the abortion or by another physician upon whose determination that physician relies, that the probable postfertilization age of the woman's unborn child is twenty or more weeks, unless the pregnancy is diagnosed as medically futile or, in reasonable medical judgment, she has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No such greater risk shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

            (2) When an abortion upon a woman whose unborn child has been determined to have a probable postfertilization age of twenty or more weeks is not prohibited by Paragraph (1) of this Subsection, the physician shall terminate the pregnancy in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless, in reasonable medical judgment, termination of the pregnancy in that manner would pose a greater risk either of the death of the pregnant woman or of the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions, of the woman than would other available methods. No such greater risk shall be deemed to exist if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.

            F. Penalties. Any person who intentionally or knowingly fails to comply with the requirements of this Section shall be subject to the penalties as provided for in R.S. 40:1061.29.

            G. Construction. This Section shall not be construed to repeal, by implication or otherwise, R.S. 40:1061.10 or any otherwise applicable provision of Louisiana law regulating or restricting abortion. An abortion that complies with this Section, but violates the provisions of R.S. 40:1061.10 or any otherwise applicable provision of Louisiana law, shall be deemed unlawful as provided in such provision. An abortion that complies with the provisions of R.S. 40:1061.10 or any otherwise applicable provision of Louisiana law regulating or restricting abortion, but violates this Section, shall be deemed unlawful as provided in this Section. If some or all of the provisions of this Section are temporarily or permanently restrained or enjoined by judicial order, all other provisions of Louisiana law regulating or restricting abortion shall be enforced as though such restrained or enjoined provisions had not been adopted; provided, however, that whenever such temporary or permanent restraining order or injunction is stayed or dissolved, or otherwise ceases to have effect, such provisions shall have full force and effect.

            Acts 2012, No. 738, §1; Redesignated from R.S. 40:1299.30.1 by HCR 84 of 2015 R.S.



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