voting stock ballot election

I am a practicing OB-GYN physician in Louisiana, and I am on the front line in the battle over the proposed Amendment 1, which says there’s no right to an abortion or abortion funding in the Louisiana Constitution.

Out of concern for my patients and for women (particularly Black women, low-income women and their families), and as someone who believes no politician should tell a person what they can do with their body, I am emphatically voting no on this amendment.

Let’s be honest. This amendment will not prevent wealthier people from getting safe and legal abortions. But it will stop people with limited means from accessing safe, legal abortions, forcing them to possibly seek illegal and dangerous alternatives. And while we’re being honest, let’s keep in mind that Black women are disproportionately affected by poverty and deprived of adequate reproductive health care.

The amendment contains no exceptions for health of the mother, fetal anomalies, rape, or incest. Can you imagine telling an incest or rape survivor who becomes pregnant that they will be forced to carry that pregnancy to term and constantly relive that horror? I can, because I would be the one delivering that terrible news.

Louisianans will vote on abortion amendment to state Constitution in 2020

Each time during the 2019 legislative session when legislators tried to add exceptions for rape and incest to the amendment, the amendment’s proponents blocked these attempts. So, don’t let them tell you that exceptions can be added later. It would be extremely difficult to do so, and these politicians know it. Also, Louisiana hasn’t funded abortion in more than 40 years, and they know that too.

And then there’s the line that this amendment doesn’t ban abortion. If the amendment goes into effect and is combined with previous legislation banning abortion, it would be the end of bodily autonomy for all Louisiana women, and would allow politicians to decide what you can and cannot do with your body.

Currently, the right to an abortion is protected by Roe v. Wade. However, with the makeup of the Supreme Court changing, that decision is more precarious than ever. Should the decision be overturned, it would let the Louisiana government outlaw safe abortion. There is a “trigger” law passed in 2006 that immediately bans abortion if Roe is overturned.

As an OB-GYN, I care for people at all stages in pregnancy. Sometimes that includes patients with life-threatening illnesses, pregnancies that are complicated with conditions not compatible with life, and people who want an abortion and face insurmountable challenges.

In Louisiana, it is already hard for me to provide the care they need, and this would make it impossible.

VALERIE WILLIAMS

physician

New Orleans