NEW ORLEANS – The Supreme Court issued a shameful ruling today overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision recognizing the constitutional right to abortion nearly 50 years ago.
The court’s decision puts abortion access in jeopardy in Louisiana. The state’s politicians have passed what is known as a trigger ban: A law passed in 2006 that is designed to ban abortion automatically if the Supreme Court overturns the constitutional right to abortion. In addition, the ruling in this case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will set off a chain reaction with states banning abortion and criminalizing essential care throughout entire regions of the country.
This decision is an unprecedented attack on reproductive freedom and the right to make core decisions about one’s body, and therefore one’s destiny. Half the states in the country are expected to ban abortion, denying 36 million women and other people who can become pregnant the fundamental right to decide for themselves whether and when to become a parent. That includes nearly one million women — and other people who can become pregnant — in Louisiana.
“The Supreme Court ruling is an unprecedented attack on women’s rights and reproductive freedom,” said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Alanah Odoms. “After today’s decision, Louisiana politicians are getting ready to turn back the clock nearly 50 years on our fundamental rights, and force women and everyone who can become pregnant into a second-class status. Make no mistake: These politicians won’t stop here. The same anti-abortion extremists seeking to control the bodies of pregnant people are coming for our right to access birth control and gender-affirming care, marry who we love, and vote.”
As some Louisiana residents have already experienced due to severe obstacles to abortion care, banning abortion leaves many with no other option than to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth. Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will has life-altering consequences, including enduring serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, derailing their education and career plans, and making it more difficult to leave an abusive partner. Today’s ruling will also have deadly consequences, with the harm falling hardest on Black women and other people of color who already face a severe maternal mortality crisis that is the worst in the same states that are determined to ban abortion. In fact, Black women in Louisiana are more than four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women, and though they make up just 39 percent of women who give birth in the state, they represent 68 percent of the women who suffer maternal deaths.
Additionally, just this week Governor Edwards signed SB 342 into law, a bill that amends Louisiana’s trigger law to increase criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions to up to 15 years in prison. This year, the legislature refused to add exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
Anti-abortion politicians have put Louisianans on the wrong side of history for too long, and the ACLU is determined to not to let them off the hook. Politicians who do not believe in protecting the civil rights and liberties of their constituents have no business in governors’ mansions, in state attorneys general’s offices, on state supreme court benches, or in state legislatures. The ACLU of Louisiana will be here to hold them to account.