How Louisiana’s Amendment 1 May Affect the Future of Abortion in the State

Stephen Marcantel

@StephenMarcant2

Feature Photo: Image by Unspalsh.

Louisiana voters will decide Nov. 3 whether to add a state constitutional amendment which could severely limit access to abortions in Louisiana in the case of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

A vote “yes” for Amendment 1 would add language to the Louisiana Constitution so that nothing in the constitution can be interpreted to protect the right to an abortion or funding of abortions. The vote on Amendment 1 is only months after the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital.

With Roe v. Wade currently being the law of the land in the U.S., Amendment 1 would be rendered ineffective if passed. Groups, such as Louisiana Right to Life and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. (PPGC), still find the amendment pivotal for the future.

Angie Thomas, associate director for Louisiana Right to Life, supports the passage of the amendment. Thomas believes the ballot measure will pass citing the organization’s internal polling, which claimed that 70% of Louisiana residents are anti-abortion.

“This is the will of the people,” said Thomas.

A sign urging voters to vote “yes” on Amendment 1. Photo by Stephen Marcantel.

Thomas said she understands the amendment will be ineffective as long as Roe v. Wade stands. She and her organization hope to see the precedent overturned in the future, according to Thomas.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade would allow states to make their own decisions on abortion rights and allow Amendment 1 to go into effect, according to Thomas.

“We want to see a day when abortion becomes unthinkable,” said Thomas, “we want to see women supported.”

PPGC argues for voters to vote “no” on Amendment 1. Sams-Abiodun said she believes the ballot measure is unnecessary and dangerous.

“[The] state constitution has become the battleground around reproductive rights,” said Sams-Abiodun.

Sams-Abiodun hosted a PPGC virtual town hall Nov. 15 to argue against Amendment 1. She was accompanied by other abortion rights activists. Kristen Emmet, a PPCG community organizer, reiterated Sams-Abiodun’s words during the town hall.

Sam-Abiodun claimed that the ballot measure is unnecessary because Louisiana already passed a trigger law in 2006. The trigger law, also known as the Human Life Protection Act, would make it immediately illegal to have an abortion in Louisiana if Roe v. Wade is overturned in the future.

The amendment is dangerous because the amendment offers no exceptions for women to receive an abortion, said Sams-Abiodun. The Human Life Protection Act only makes an exception if the mother’s life is at risk, said Sams-Abiodun. This means that even pregnancies that are products of rape and incest cannot be terminated, according to Sams-Abiodun.

Laura Fine, attorney and panel member of the PPGC virtual town hall, stated that the amendment is to keep future legislatures from expanding protections to women in the state. Amendment 1 would keep statecourt judges from finding protections for abortion in the constitution based on ideas like the right to privacy, said Fine.

If the amendment passes one could file a lawsuit against the state citing Roe v. Wade, according to Fine. Sams-Abiodun stated PPGC will explore the legal avenues their organization has to challenge the state but did not confirm if they would file a lawsuit against the state. 

“Constitutions should reaffirm rights, not take them away,” Sams-Abiodun said.

Early voting in Louisiana starts Oct. 16 and ends Oct. 27. Election Day is Nov. 3.

To find out your registration status, sample ballot and polling location, visit the Geaux Vote website.

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