Gov. Jindal Signs Law to Keep Brain Dead Pregnant Women Alive

By Abigail Wilkinson | June 30, 2014 | 10:16 AM EDT


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (AP photo)

(  -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed another pro-life bill last Monday, this one mandating that under certain conditions, a pregnant woman declared “brain-dead” must be kept alive to save the life of her unborn child.

“It is the policy of the state of Louisiana that human life is of the highest and inestimable value through natural death," states the new law, which passed 31-2 in the state Senate and 87-1 in the House, and went into effect immediately following the governor's signature.

"When interpreting this Part, any ambiguity shall be interpreted to preserve human life," the law states.

The Louisiana Senate added an amendment which would have put the decision to withdraw life support in the hands of the pregnant woman’s family, but the amendment was removed in the subsequent conference committee.

The bill (H.B. 1274) introduced by Rep. Austin Badon, (D-New Orleans) requires an obstetrician to determine that “the probably postfertilization age of the unborn child is twenty or more weeks and the pregnant woman’s life can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child.”

"Do we really want to pull the plug of that healthy baby?” Badon asks.

Louisiana state Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans) (Louisiana House of Representatives)

More than 30 other states have similar laws.

According to a study, there were only 30 reported cases of a pregnant woman becoming brain dead between 1982 and 2010.

However, the issue has recently come to the public eye after the high-profile case of Marlise Munoz. The pregnant 33-year-old paramedic from Texas suffered a pulmonary embolism and was rushed to the hospital. She was pronounced brain dead soon after.

The hospital refused to remove her from the life-support machines because Texas law states that a “a doctor may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient.” A legal battle ensued.

Munoz’ widower won the suit, and so Munoz was removed from life support. Both mother and child died shortly thereafter.

There have been other cases where the mother has been kept alive long enough for the delivery of a viable child. Robyn Benson was 22-weeks pregnant when she was declared brain dead. Life support was not removed until the delivery of her healthy son.

But NARAL Pro-Choice America objected to the law, the latest in a string of pro-life legislation passed by the Louisiana legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jindal, who vetoed a bill that would have legalized surrogacy contracts in the state last month.

Earlier this month, he signed a bill which “requires that a physician performing an abortion have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is not more than thirty miles from where the abortion is performed.” Simultaneously, he signed another bill which prevents children in state-funded schools from being targeted by abortion organizations.

“Laws like this show the sinister underlying belief that anti-choice politicians hold - that women’s sole purpose is to have children, and once we are pregnant, our rights to make our own decisions fly out the window regardless of what we think, our families think, and what medical experts think,” said Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s president.

But Rep. Badon defended his legislation. “My emphasis for this bill was to give a voice to the unborn children and save babies. As a legislator, I look at what-ifs and try to create laws that anticipate what could happen,” he told LifeSiteNews.