WASHINGTON. — After reading crucial sections of Louisiana's new anti-abortion law, I found myself asking how the men who voted for this measure could be so domineeringly cruel to women.
I wondered especially how they could craft a draconian piece of legislation that treats so meanly female victims of rape and incest.
I found the answer in a New York Times article about Sam Houston Theriot, the 36-year-old legislator who led the successful crusade to override Gov. Buddy Roemer's veto of the anti-abortion bill. Mr. Theriot, an ordained Roman Catholic deacon, told the Times:
''I was a deacon preaching out against the evil of abortion, not a legislator speaking out for change in the laws when I took on this role and this bill. I feel I was cast into this role. God has put me here.''
So it is God who wants Louisiana's attorney general to tell a woman impregnated during a rape that ''You didn't get a doctor's examination and certificate within five days of the rape, and you didn't report it to the cops within seven days. Have the baby!''
This law is just one more example of the social and physical outrages, the crimes against humanity, perpetrated in the name of God.
The Louisiana legislature subjects to 10-year prison terms doctors who administer or prescribe ''any drug, potion, medicine or other substance to a female'' or use ''any instrument or external force whatsoever on a female'' with ''the specific intent of terminating a pregnancy.''
The legislature has declared every fertilized human egg to be ''an unborn child'' and asserted that the state has ''a legitimate, compelling interest in protecting, to the greatest extent possible, the life of the unborn.''
It is not flippant to say that God only knows how the officials of Louisiana will enforce the most obtuse and troubling sections of this law.
What we can be sure of is that thousands of traumatized victims of rape and incest are not going to meet the legislature's deadline for rushing to either the police, or to physicians, to get the required certificates and written verifications that will entitle them to a legal abortion.
As their bellies swell weeks later, they will recognize the desirability of an abortion and ask the state for exemption from the legalisms in which the anti-abortion crusaders have chained them. Will their pleas fall upon compassionate ears?
Surely not the ears of legislators who think they are tuned in only to God.
Carl Rowan is a syndicated columnist.