La. abortion amendment has little impact unless Roe v. Wade is overturned

Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 5:38 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana voters can declare on election day that the state’s constitution does not protect access to abortions, though the move would be largely symbolic unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its Roe v. Wade decision.

The proposed amendment would make clear there is no right to an abortion under the state’s constitution, and that the state does not have to allocate any dollars to fund abortion procedures. State law already prevents tax-funded abortion, though not codified in the constitution.

The 1972 Roe v. Wade ruling guarantees access to abortions, no matter what states' laws say. But as the U.S. Senate decides whether to confirm pro-life justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, advocates on both sides of the abortion issue are beginning to plan as if a new conservative majority will reconsider Roe.

A law approved in 2006 would ban all abortions, except when the mother’s life is at risk, if the high court overturns Roe v. Wade. Louisiana is one of four states with a ban triggered by reconsideration. There is no exception for rape or incest victims.

The Constitutional Amendment 1, on Nov. 3 ballots, would essentially provide a safeguard for that 2006 law. It would make it all but impossible for a judge to strike down the ban if Roe v. Wade fell and a woman challenged the 2006 trigger law in state court.

The amendment could also make it more difficult to add rape and incest exceptions to current laws, including the 2006 trigger ban and the fetal heartbeat ban.

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