On June 24, the United States Supreme Court, in a six-to-three vote in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, decided to overturn the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade (1973). Roe v. Wade had ruled that the United States Constitution protected a woman’s right to have an abortion.
The majority opinion draft of the overturning of Roe was leaked to Politico on May 2 of this year.
I believe that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is unjust. Abortions are performed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s for a medical reason, and sometimes, it is not. The laws and the restrictions that some states have imposed after Roe v. Wade shows that they do not care about the well-being of all citizens, only a select few.
Louisiana, the state I have called home for my entire life, has a trigger law. Louisiana’s trigger law states that “Any decision of the United States Supreme Court which reverses, in whole or in part, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S.Ct. 705, 35 L.Ed. 2d 147 (1973), thereby, restoring to the state of Louisiana the authority to prohibit abortion.” Louisiana is one of thirteen states with trigger laws; the other states are Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming, Missouri and North and South Dakota.
When the overturning was announced, Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge, Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans and Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, the only three abortion providers in the state, had to stop providing the procedure. The closest states to get an abortion in are now Kansas, Illinois and North Carolina.
On July 8, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that protects abortion rights in the United States. The order covers a wide range of reproductive health areas, some of these are protecting access to abortion pills or different forms of contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs, emergency contraceptives, and access to services that assist in family planning. The order also includes access to emergency medical care. Also, it affects the protection of patients’ privacy.
An executive order is a step in the right direction in protecting reproductive rights, something that has been under attack for years.
A state judge in New Orleans did block implementation of a trigger law designed to immediately stop abortions in Louisiana upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The Washington Post reports, “The order followed a lawsuit by abortion providers alleging that the law, designed to take effect automatically if the Supreme Court struck down Roe, is “constitutionally vague.” A hearing is pending next week.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights is one of the groups named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. In their statement announcing the lawsuit, “The Louisiana lawsuit filed today by the Center and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, with local counsel Ellie Schilling, requested emergency relief from the state’s laws on behalf of Hope Medical Group for Women and its Administrator, Kathaleen Pittman, and Medical Students for Choice.” The block temporarily stopped the implementation of the trigger law. The hearing occured on July 8, and a judge in New Orleans lifted the temporary block. During the July 8 hearing, it was also ruled that the lawsuit against the trigger law will now move to the 19th Judicial District in East Baton Rouge Parish. A judge then issued a second block in Baton Rouge. According to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, “Judge Don Johnson, who issued the temporary restraining order late Tuesday, has set a Monday hearing for both sides to argue whether the injunction should remain in place.” Judge Johnson temporarily extended the block on Monday, July 18. On Tuesday, July 19 the temporary block was extended again until a hearing on July 29.
Even before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Louisiana had severe restrictions in place to make it difficult to access abortions. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights,“ Pregnant people who seek abortion care must undergo a mandatory seventy-two hour waiting period, biased counseling, and an ultrasound.” The state’s law also requires the consent of a legal guardian, parish judge or parent if the person seeking the abortion is underage. Public funding for abortions is also restricted, and the Center for Reproductive Rights highlights how these restrictions affect low-income women.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights “Women who qualify for state assistance for healthcare coverage are prohibited from using state funding for abortions, except in rare circumstances.”
The use of telemedicine is also banned when it is used to prescribe an abortion pill. In 2019, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law banning abortion after six weeks.
An article published in 2020 by the Guttmacher Institute reports that 89 abortion restrictions have been passed in Louisiana since the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
It is wrong for the government to mess with a medical procedure, a medical procedure that saves lives. It angers me that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and the state I live in does not care for women’s rights. All of these restrictions that that state’s government has imposed on abortion since 1973 are evidence of that. Since birth, the rights guaranteed to me might not be there for future generations.
Louisiana also has Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers Laws or TRAP Laws. The state’s TRAP Laws include requirements for clinics that perform abortions to have separate licensing. The Center for Reproductive Rights says this, “… subjects abortion providers to onerous and medically unnecessary requirements not applicable to other healthcare providers.”
The trigger law in Louisiana was initially signed in 2006 by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and only gave exceptions to abortion if the mother’s life is in danger, but it does not provide exceptions to abortion in the case of rape or incest. In May of 2022, a bill was brought into the Louisiana House of Representatives that would of charged anyone who recieved an abortion with homicide. Axios states, “The state House voted to completely amend the bill prompting its sponsor, state Rep. Danny McCormick (R), to withdraw the bill from consideration.” The bill also prompted anti-abortion groups and Edwards to speak out against it.
In June of 2022, Edwards signed a law, increasing the penalties for abortion providers. According to Reuters, “The legislation increases the criminal penalties for abortion providers to one to 10 years in prison and $10,000 to $100,000 in fines from the previous one to five years in prison and $5,000 to $10,000 in fines.” The penalties only apply to the provider and not the person receiving the abortion.
The 2022 law expands on the exceptions in the 2006 bill, like only allowing abortions if the mother’s life is in danger, but not for rape or incest. The exceptions to abortion are if it is an ectopic pregnancy or if the fetus is medically futile. The state’s law defines medically futile as, “… in reasonable medical judgment, the unborn child has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that is incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” But this law also requires two doctors to decide if the pregnancy is medically futile.
It is disapointing for Edwards to say, “As I have said many times before, I believe women who are survivors of rape or incest should be able to determine whether to continue with a pregnancy that is the result of a criminal act.” And he still signed a law that does not give an exception for rape or incest. Even though he asked, “… Legislature to include exceptions for rape and incest in the legislation most recently passed.” He still signed the law after he asked for the exceptions and the Legislature refused to include them.
I am pro-choice; I believe that abortion is a decision that should be between a woman and her doctor. Whether or not to have an abortion should not be decided for her by the government.