What a creative bunch those Louisiana state legislators are. Instead of spending their time shoring up a sagging state economy or increasing literacy, a single-minded faction of the Legislature has fixated on laying down the law on abortion. Why go after issues that require complex thought and planning when the political equivalent of a fistfight will do?
The proposed Louisiana law would outlaw abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or when the pregnant woman's life is in danger, and would institute an unprecedented penalty on doctors of up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
It would be easy to disparage Louisiana for its backwardness. But actually, this bill is merely the most radical example of the continuing fallout from last year's confused Supreme Court decision on abortion. An indecisive high court was not quite willing to overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade case legalizing abortion, but it was willing to throw it back to the states to renew debate on abortion restrictions. So the attempts to restrict abortions keep coming--from Idaho, where a stricter law failed, to Pennsylvania, where one succeeded.
The Louisiana law now is in the hands of Gov. Buddy Roemer, who said he favored an anti-abortion law but who now questions the constitutionality of this one. That's because the anti-abortion bill was transformed, whole cloth, from a bill that would have allowed a maximum $25 fine for beating someone who burned the flag.
"Only in Louisiana could you have a flag burning bill become an abortion bill," said one abortion-rights activist. Not so. Not anymore.