Abortion rights could go before Louisiana voters

Abortion rights could go before Louisiana voters
Louisiana State Capital (Source: Lowrey, Erin)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Abortion rights could soon go before Louisiana voters if a bill before lawmakers passes.

Pro-life advocates in Louisiana want the issue of abortion to stay in the hands of the people and their elected officials.

“This bill will finally give the people of Louisiana an opportunity to vote on an issue that we’ve voted on numerous times and that’s to say we are against the shedding of innocent blood in Louisiana, that we believe in life and we support life. I am a pro-life advocate who supports life, I like to tell people from the womb to the tomb,” said Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe.

Jackson is sponsoring House Bill 425, known as the "Love Life Amendment.” It says that nothing in the Louisiana Constitution would protect a right to abortion or require funding of abortion. It went before the House Civil Law Committee Tuesday for discussion. Both the Governor’s Office and Louisiana Right to Life support it.

“We recently did a poll of the state and found that 70 percent of Louisianians self-identify as pro-life, so this a good starting place for this amendment to be put forth before the people to support this pro-life principal that the right to abortion should not be found in our state’s constitution,” said Louisiana Right to Life Executive Director Ben Clapper.

“I think what Representative Jackson said clearly about this bill does is exactly the reason we support it; in that we want to make it clear that the Louisiana constitution does not provide for a right to abortion. That’s what this bill does,” said Matthew Block with the Governor’s Office.

But the ACLU of Louisiana has concerns.

“What the bill essentially does is provides that Louisiana, our constitution, has no protections for abortion whatsoever, so in the event that the Supreme Court overrules Roe vs. Wade, which right now protects the woman’s right to choose, women in Louisiana would automatically have no rights to an abortion,” said ACLU of Louisiana Legal Director Katie Schwartzmann.

Schwartzmann says if passed, the bill could eventually take away a woman’s right to choose.

“There are multiple anti-abortion bills moving their way through the state legislature, you know, and I think this bill that we were just discussing really shows what the real objective is here, which is to actually outlaw abortion, to make it completely outside the reach of a woman, and we think this unnecessarily invades the very private, very personal medical decisions that every woman has the right to make. This is the government reaching in and telling you what kind of medical care you can and can’t have,” said Schwartzmann.

The bill now goes before the full House. If it passes two thirds of the Legislature, the amendment would be put on the October primary ballot.

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