On Nov. 3, Louisianans will vote on Constitutional Amendment 1, which would alter our state constitution to declare that the right to abortion is not guaranteed. It states that “a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution.” If this amendment passes, Louisiana families will suffer.
Louisiana is already one of the least hospitable states for families in the nation. We currently rank last in maternal mortality and second-to-last in infant mortality. We have the third-highest rate of poverty and rank 42nd for childcare based on an index which measures the combined quality, cost, and availability in each state. Our public schools are 48th in the U.S. All of these outcomes disproportionately impact Black Louisianans.
Fully half of all women in the United States who receive an abortion are already mothers. For many of them, abortion allows them to better care for their families and to avoid having to spread their time and resources even thinner. It is important to note that trans and nonbinary people also seek and obtain abortions, but most abortion research focuses specifically on woman-identified people.
A recent 10-year study compared women who received the abortions they sought to women who were turned away as a result of state laws that make it illegal to receive the procedure past a certain point in pregnancy. This study illustrates that women who are not able to obtain the abortions they seek are four times more likely to fall into poverty. They are also more likely to suffer health complications and less likely to escape intimate partner violence.
Abortion is already very difficult to access in Louisiana. We have only three clinics, and 72% of women live in parishes with no clinic that provides the procedure. If Amendment 1 passes, it would signal to lawmakers that Louisianans approve of this status quo. And it would mean that, should Roe v. Wade be overturned (as seems increasingly possible), abortion would be completely banned in the state.
But banning abortion does not mean that abortions would not take place. Instead, the procedure would simply be made inaccessible to our most marginalized and vulnerable communities. Those with fewer resources to travel long distances, take time off of work, and cover hotel, childcare, and the cost of the procedure would be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.
It is already so difficult for families to thrive in this state. Louisianans must vote “no” on Amendment #1 to send a message to our lawmakers that our families need access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care — and that legislators’ time would be better spent improving birth outcomes, raising the quality of our schools, and addressing economic wellbeing.
administrative assistant professor, Tulane University's Newcomb Institute