Louisiana’s Amendment One, or the “Love Life” Amendment, was passed last week, which meant abortions shouldn’t be protected by Lousiana’s Consitution. Amendment One is adding to the State’s Declaration of Rights, “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” This ballot initiative establishes no right to abortion or to public funding of abortions in the state’s constitution. Programs such as Medicaid and Planned Parenthood would no longer be funded for abortions. Voters in Alabama and West Virginia voted to approve similar constitutional amendments by ballot initiative in the 2018 midterm elections. Tennessee’s constitution also establishes no right to abortion in the state. With Justice Amy Coney Barrett replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, abortion has been a huge topic talked about the past month because the Supreme Court has a 6 – 3 conservative majority now. This could weaken the federal laws on abortion or even get rid of the Roe v. Wade landmark decision altogether, which would then leave abortion laws up to the states. At the moment, 17 cases involving abortion rights are poised to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently, 21 states in the U.S. have laws written into their constitution that would restrict access or even ban abortion even in the case of incest or rape. These laws would come into action in the case of Roe v. Wade getting overturned. At the moment, only 13 states have laws that protect a woman’s right to choose whether or not they want an abortion under any circumstance.
Louisiana’s current governor, John Bel Edwards of the Democratic Party, has been trying to crack down on abortion for a while. In June of 2014, Louisiana passed a law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. This law was modeled after a Texas’ HB2 law that was then stopped by the Supreme Court in 2016 with the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case. To add, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the Louisiana law, which would have forced all but one of the state’s abortion clinics to close. This case then went to the Supreme Court, June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo, in February of 2019. The Supreme Court voted to temporarily block Louisiana’s law with a 5 – 4 vote. In April 2019, June Medical Services L.L.C. filed a petition for a writ of certiorari. In October 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and on June 29, 2020, by another vote of 5 – 4, the Supreme Court reversed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, which tackled Louisiana’s Act 620. The Court recognized that Act 620 was almost word-for-word identical to the Texas law it struck down in Whole Woman’s Health, as it goes against the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court deemed that since both Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and June Medical Services L.L.C. v. Russo were extremely similar that they should be treated the same. Although, four Justices declared that Louisiana should uphold the law because all the other states are free to create any restrictions they deem necessary, even if they have no evidence if it is for a medical issue or not.
The Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition are the ones responsible for Amendment One being passed. According to their website, they are “a team of Louisiana citizens and organizations who want to put our love for life at the heart of our state, in our Constitution.” Their website is called “Love Life Vote Yes,” and preaches about all the “unborn babies” this law will save, which is absolutely ridiculous. The website is very misleading and biased, as it is run by various church groups. These pro-lifers mislead you by mentioning abortions that happens at five months as if it is the most common time period to get abortions, but, fun fact, abortions around this time only account for one percent of all abortions. The pro-lifers plead that they love babies and their mothers, so they created a law that reflects that. If they really love mothers, though, they would give them the right to choose whether or not they should continue to be pregnant. Instead, they force a child on them whether they like it or not. The website is also silent abortion in the case of incest or rape. The Love Life group wasn’t silent on the issue of the “life or death” situation of the mother, “the question of situations of the “life of the mother” are not relevant to Amendment #1.” The law also requires that it try to save both the mother and the child before this happens, even with a huge chance that the mother will die giving birth.
The “Love Life” Amendment was passed by 62 percent of voters in Louisiana, and 38 percent who opposed it. With Roe v. Wade still intact for now, Amendment One remains just symbolic for now because the right to abortions are still legal in all 50 states. The symbol of the “Love Life” amendment is basically a trigger, as it will ban all abortions with the excpetion of the mother’s life being threatened. It doesn’t help that the Governor and Senators of Louisiana have been trying for past couple of years to make it harder for one to get an abortion in the state with all of the 89 laws they have tried to pass. According to Steffani Bangel, executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, “[. . .] Adding this language to our Constitution means we’ll have less right to sue for abortion rights.” There are only three clinics in Louisiana that provide abortions; they are in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. These three clinic are hours and miles away from women who seek to have an abortion, epsecially low-income women who don’t have the time or money to drive all the way to these cities.
Abortion is a medical procedure, nothing more, and restricting it will cause more deaths to people in this country than actual zygotes or, in pro-life terms, “babies.” Making abortions illegal would lead to so many deaths among women who would turn to unsafe abortions. In the U.S., in 1965, unsafe abortions made up one-sixth of pregancy related deaths. Women should not be forced to carry a child they do not want; it is not up to anyone to choose what a woman wants to do with her body. An Amendment made by a group that promotes life only when it is in the womb should not be dictating what the women of Louisiana should do with their bodies. If the “Love Life” people want to save lives, why don’t they start at the border, where children are dying and being separated from their families then locked in a cage? Or with the Black women who are more likely to die during childbirth than any other women? Why do they support the imprisonment or execution women who access safe abortion care if protecting life is their main agenda? Pro-lifers want to force women to keep their pregnancy, and yet they also want to deny them affordable healthcare. These groups are nothing but hypocrites, as the only life they care about are the only ones not actually living. This isn’t about protecting “life;” it’s about controlling women and their bodies.
Feature Image: Courtesy of Eric Gay / AP