Louisiana woman seeking abortion demands special legislative session to clarify ban

John Bel Edwards
(Image credit: Photo by Josh Brasted/Getty Images for Resilience Force)

A Louisiana woman 15 weeks pregnant with a fetus doctors say cannot survive outside the womb demanded Friday that Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) and the state legislature call a special session to clarify the state's abortion restrictions.

According to The Associated Press, Davis' fetus was diagnosed with "a rare and fatal condition in which the baby's skull fails to form." The baby would likely survive less than a week — or even less than an hour — after birth.

Louisiana's abortion ban, which took effect at the beginning of August, outlaws the procedure except in cases where the mother faces substantial risk of death or bodily impairment. The law stipulates that the "removal" of "an unborn child who is deemed to be medically futile" does not constitute an abortion.

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Pro-lifers frequently assert that abortion is never medically necessary and that prematurely delivering a baby who cannot survive outside the womb is not the same thing as an abortion. Fact checkers have rejected this claim on the grounds that "any delivery before 20 weeks of pregnancy is medically defined as an abortion" even if doctors do not directly kill the fetus.

Doctors who perform illegal abortions in Louisiana face up to 15 years in prison. Davis said the doctors who denied her an abortion "seemed confused about the law," which permits the removal of an inviable fetus after diagnosis by two qualified physicians.

"Basically, they said I had to carry my baby to bury my baby," Davis said.

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