On Friday morning, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The ruling allowed for the states to individually decided the fate for its citizens. In Louisiana, an abortion ban was immediately enacted.
Even though Louisiana is helmed by a Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards is one of the few Democrats who oppose abortion rights. Just three days ago, Governor Edwards signed two “trigger-laws,” which became “effective immediately upon…any decision of the Supreme Court of the United States which overrules, in whole or in part, Roe v. Wade.”
Key provisions of the laws include:
- Abortion has been outlawed in the state
- All abortion facilities must be immediately closed and shut down
- The definition of criminal abortion was expanded “to include delivering, dispensing, distributing, or providing abortifacients when the person administering the medication is not a doctor licensed in Louisiana”
- Nobody “can administer, prescribe, procure for, or sell to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug or other substance with the intent causing an abortion”
- Those who “commit the crime of abortion,” are subject to up to 10 years of prison time and $100,000 penalties
- Any doctor caught performing a late term abortion, “defined as when the gestational age of the fetus is 15 weeks or more” can face up to 15 years imprisonment and fines of $200,000
- If the pregnant person is a minor, the penalty could be up to 50 years of prison time and $100,000
- Localities are allowed to “enact ordinances stricter than” the laws currently imposed by the state
- The abortion laws in the state are “severable in nature just in case one is ruled unconstitutional at any time”
Under the laws’ provisions, “[t]here are no legal exceptions for rape or incest;” however, in the event of an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus and cannot survive, abortion is still legal. The laws have also carved out “an exception for any pregnancy in which two doctors conclude that the fetus would not be able to survive after birth.”
Under the new laws, it still remains legal to take emergency contraception AKA the “morning-after” pills, and it specifically spares pregnant women from the threat of prosecution.
Presently, there are 12 other states which have laws on the books that either ban abortion immediately or will do so soon: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights group, the following states are most likely going to also ban abortions: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Additionally, the states predicted to attempt to ban abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is reversed are: Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska.
Only sixteen states and the District of Columbia have codified abortion rights into law, preserving access for women.
If you live in Louisiana and want to procure an abortion, you would have to venture out of the state, traveling as far as Illinois or New Mexico to obtain the medical procedure.
All three of Louisiana’s remaining abortion clinics, including one in New Orleans, would have to be immediately shut down.
As previously reported by ESSENCE, studies show that Black women experience large educational and employment gains as a result of access to reproductive health services, including abortion care. Such care is especially essential for young people to determine their futures: Of the Black women in Louisiana who sought abortion care in 2018, 78% were under the age of 30.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has indicated that the Department of Justice is committed to protecting women who are now forced to travel to states where abortion remain legal. AG Garland stated, “Few rights are more central to individual freedom than the right to control one’s own body.”
“The Justice Department will use every tool at our disposal to protect reproductive freedom. And we will not waver from this Department’s founding responsibility to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
Garland was then-President Obama’s Supreme Court Justice nomination pick in 2010, following Justice John Paul Stevens retirement announcement. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Garland as Obama’s nomination. That maneuver ultimately resulted in former President Donald Trump pushing three conservative justices into the Supreme Court.