As a medical student and future physician in Louisiana, I oppose Senate Bill 181 which would limit abortions to 15 weeks. I am disappointed in Gov. John Bel Edwards for supporting an unconscionable bill that wages reproductive war on our neighbors and my future patients.
Recent data shows that in Louisiana, 60 percent of pregnancies are unintended (higher than the national average), 21 percent of which end in abortion. People seeking abortions reflect the diversity in our community. Many are religious, of diverse racial backgrounds, and in many cases, are already parents. Louisiana is an extremely hostile state toward abortion access, and has one of the strictest term limits (20 weeks) on this safe and legal medical procedure. Limiting access further will have tremendous negative impact on many people in Louisiana. Especially vulnerable are those in lower income brackets, which make up a large percentage of patients.
Louisiana has no state minimum wage. A person working at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour makes $290 a week before taxes. The average cost for an abortion is $500 in the first trimester, a price which increases by the week. Working at minimum wage, it would take more than 70 hours to take home $500. It’s not feasible to come up with $500 within a week, as making $290 a week leaves no emergency reserve. Patients commonly pick up odd jobs, borrow, and sell valuables to come up with the money, only to return to find the cost has increased since last week, putting them back at Square One. This is a story I have heard dozens of times, and limiting abortions to 15 weeks puts a tighter squeeze on this cycle.
SB181 is unconscionable for the disproportionate financial strain it puts on low-income families, and for the threat to health it creates. Data suggests that banning abortions does not stop abortions; it only stops legal abortions. As people turn to the internet or their neighbors to aid them in a procedure that should be carried out by trained medical professionals, our community will pay both in medical costs, and likely, in lives.