Louisiana’s War on Women’s Autonomy

Credit: ProgressOhio

Women’s rights are under attack in states all across the United States – but especially in the Deep South.

Emboldened by the anti-abortion agenda pushed by President Donald Trump’s administration and the appointment of two potentially anti-abortion Supreme Court Justices, states have begun a push to overturn the Roe V. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the country.

In Louisiana, the “war on women” has manifested in three ways:

  • Failure to ratify the equal rights amendment
  • A law, now blocked by the Supreme Court, that would have left only one legal abortion clinic in operation in the state
  • A so-called fetal “heartbeat bill” up for debate in the Louisiana legislature

Anti-Abortionists Block Equal Rights Ratification

Last week, the Louisiana Senate voted down a bill that would have finally ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee gender equality. It has been in limbo after being passed by Congress in 1972 and currently needs only one more state to ratify it in order to be added to the Constitution.

Sadly, the failure to ratify the amendment has been led by anti-abortionists in the state. Senator Beth Mizell, who chairs the Louisiana legislative women’s caucus has said that she feared ratification of the amendment could expand access to abortions.

Louisiana’s First Attempt at Limiting Abortion Access

In February, the Supreme Court blocked Louisiana’s first attempt at limiting abortion access. Under the law, doctors offering abortion services in Louisiana must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. This would leave only a single abortion clinic open in the entire state, severely limiting women’s access to abortion services.

The stay is only temporary while an appeal against the law is pursued in lower courts.

The Fetal Heartbeat Bill

SB 184 is up for debate in the Louisiana House of Representatives this week and is largely expected to pass. It is similar to other bills that have become law in recent months, most notably Georgia and Mississippi. In fact, there is a “trigger clause” in the bill that prevents it from becoming law until a similar law in Mississippi passes court challenges.

Under the bill, abortion would be banned after the six-week mark, or as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. At six weeks, a woman’s period is only around two weeks late; many women do not even realize they are pregnant by this point. While a Senate Committee had approved adding exclusions from the bill in the cases of rape and incest, they later reversed course.

Those who support the law say that a fetal heartbeat should be considered a clear sign of life. However, it’s worth noting that there are no similar “right to life” bills for those who are taken off life support in spite of having a heartbeat.

Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.

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