Louisiana Lawmakers Pushing Multiple Bills Aimed at Limiting Access to Reproductive Health Care

Reproductive health advocates warn these efforts impose dangerous obstacles for women

New Orleans, LA (April 20, 2016) – The Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom expressed serious concerns about a slew of bills being considered by the House Health and Welfare Committee today.

The committee’s agenda, clearly coordinated with anti-abortion activists, includes proposals to prohibit health care providers, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving state funding even for family planning services.  Another proposal by Representative Mike Johnson would ban the most common abortion method in the second trimester. This law inserts politicians squarely between doctors and their patients, forcing physicians to abandon their own ethics and good practice, face criminal penalties, or deny women the care they need.

The effort to push these cynical attacks on safe, legal abortion procedures is supported by the same lawmakers who are advancing measure after measure to deny women access to care earlier, when the vast majority of women seek and need abortion care. The defunding bills by Representatives Hoffman and Johnson would deny women access to affordable contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies. While another bill by Hoffman, which recently passed in the House, would triple a state imposed delay on women seeking an abortion; pushing more women to have second-trimester procedures.

“Louisiana needs more health care and thousands rely on Planned Parenthood to get essential, preventive health care they need and deserve,” said Raegan Carter, Senior Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.  “The bottom line is Louisiana’s women, men and young people need access to affordable preventive health care and politicians in Baton Rouge should not play games with our health and our lives.  It’s time for politicians to start focusing on the real problems facing our state and stop playing politics.”

“Laws restricting access to comprehensive health care, including abortion, harm all people.  But the damage is highest in the most marginalized communities, including low-income women, women of color, rural women, and women who are abused or assaulted,” said Amy Irvin, executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund.  “When NOAF’s clients call for help funding their abortion care, we trust them to know the best option for their future and their family’s well-being.  Louisiana lawmakers should trust their constituents as well.”

“The claim that anti-choice policymakers are working to protect and support the health and lives of women, their pregnancies, and their children, is not supported by Louisiana’s poor state-level health and well-being outcomes. Legislators are patronizing women who have already made a decision by insisting they take 3 extra days to re-consider that decision. It does nothing to empower women and can harm their health instead,” says Angela Adkins, President, Baton Rouge chapter of the National Organization for Women. “There should be no debate over one of today’s most common medical procedures, with a low complication rate of .06%. Restricting abortion doesn’t stop abortions, only safe ones.”

“Every pregnant woman faces unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications. Sadly, our lawmakers don’t seem to take into account those circumstances or trust women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana. “If they really cared about women’s health they would be supporting policies that improve health outcomes for women like sexual health education and access to affordable contraception.”

Major mainstream medical experts like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose these measures, noting “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.”    

Furthermore, the Supreme Court has upheld the abortion method as constitutional.  At a time when Louisiana’s budget is in crisis, Louisiana’s legislators should not be setting the state up for failure by proposing unconstitutional measures that will necessarily require ongoing and expensive litigation.  

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