Abortion Restrictions

Each year, a broad cross section of U.S. women obtain abortions. As of 2014, some 60% of women having abortions were in their 20s; 59% had one or more children; 86% were unmarried; 75% were economically disadvantaged; and 62% reported a religious affiliation. Sixty-three percent of Louisiana women ages 15-44 live in Parish with no abortion clinic.[1]

Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in the United States. Fewer than 0.05% of women obtaining abortions experience a complication.[1] Despite that, Louisiana lawmakers have passed dozens of restrictions on abortion access over that last four decades.

In Louisiana, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of January 1, 2017[1]:

  • Abortion would be banned if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.
  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two separate trips to the facility.
  • Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act may not provide coverage of abortion.
  • The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must show and describe the image to the woman.
  • An abortion may be performed at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered, her physical health is severely compromised or the pregnancy is “medically futile,” based on the spurious assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that point.

In 2014, Louisiana passed a law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. This law is blocked by the US Supreme Court from taking effect. In April 2017, a federal district court permanently blocked this law, citing the Supreme Court ruling in July 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case which struck down a similar law in Texas.

In 2016, Louisiana passed seven new laws targeting reproductive health care, including a measure which would triple the state’s mandatory delay for women seeking abortion from 24 to 72 hours and a measure which bans the most common method of second trimester abortion.These laws are currently being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Watch this webinar about court challenges to abortion restrictions to learn more.

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[1] Guttmacher Institute. State facts about abortion; 2017 [Louisiana,http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/sfaa/louisiana.html, accessed 3/01/2016].

[2] S.C.M. Robertsa,⁎, L. Fuentesb, R. Kriza, V. Williamsc, U.D. Upadhyaya (2015) Implications for women of Louisiana’s law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, CA, Ibis Reproductive Health, Oakland, CA and Louisiana State University, School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA.