Louisiana Still Wants to Ban Abortion

By Paige Davis

The Truth About Abortion Access

Louisiana is known as “the most pro-life state in the nation” and has laws in the books to warrant the title. Targeted regulations of abortion providers, known as “TRAP” laws, are prevalent throughout the state. Restrictions that originated in Louisiana have circulated through other state legislatures and have been implemented in an attempt to limit abortion access across the country. States as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania have adopted Louisiana's measures, including a law that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

TRAP laws are a national issue, and have the potential to impact Tulane students while in New Orleans and in their home states.

These laws have a clear motive of changing the minds of women who seek a legal and safe abortion. Women must undergo face-to-face counseling with a physician and endure a 24 hour waiting period. They are forced to view an ultrasound and listen to biased information written by the state. If a baby has a heartbeat, the technician must give the women the option of listening. Despite the fact that the abortion procedure is simple and often administered in the form of a pill, the laws require all abortion providers to be registered and board certified obstetricians, gynecologists, or family practice doctors.

To make matters worse, women must pay out of pocket for abortions because of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal insurance coverage of abortions. Primarily impacted are those who receive medicare and medicaid, members of the military, peace corps volunteers, and those who receive their healthcare through Indian services. Without coverage, many women struggle to afford the five to six hundred dollar cost of the procedure.

Amy Irvin is the executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF), an organization that was founded in 2010 and provides financial assistance to women seeking abortion care in New Orleans and the gulf coast region. Irvin says that NOAF has recently been assisting women in the Baton Rouge region who are forced to travel long distances to receive care due to local closures of clinics. Currently, Louisiana has only four abortion clinics, all of which are independent providers. Planned Parenthood cannot perform abortions in Louisiana due to these arbitrary restrictions.

NOAF has helped over 700 women access abortion care since 2013. These women usually come from marginalized communities: impoverished women, women of color, and female immigrants. These are groups whose access to abortion care is most restricted by emerging TRAP laws and the Hyde Amendment. NOAF received an outpour of community support following the 2016 election, including volunteers, fundraisers, and donations.

For Tulane students looking to get involved following the Women’s March and Planned Parenthood Rally at City Hall, Irvin recommends to:

- Join on-campus groups such as Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ), If/How/When (law student group) and Social Workers United for Reproductive Freedom.

- Take courses that talk about reproductive rights and justice such as History of Reproductive Health in the U.S. taught by Karissa Haugeberg.

- Apply for the new Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health Internship Program through NOAF and the Newcomb College Institute.

- Become a clinic escort by attending a training session and then taking shifts.

- Choose NOAF to be the beneficiary for a fundraiser as they work with all four abortion clinics in the state of Louisiana directly and assist women locally.

- Form a team and attend the NOAF Game-a-Thon on April 23rd at Shamrock, a fundraiser where 99% of the money goes directly to helping women access abortions.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is, as Irvin puts it, "as complicated as our lives are." It is based upon many factors, such as living wage, access to quality health care and contraceptives, insurance, domestic violence, and sexual assault. As one in three women in America will attempt to have an abortion in their lifetime, it is not enough for abortion to be theoretically legal. It must be realistically accessible. If you care about this issue, get out there and do something about it.

Contact me at pdavis11@tulane.edu for more information on how to help.