Choices Again Narrow As Ban on Abortion Will Soon Be Back in Place

abortion rally
Minnesotans Unite Against the War on Women Rally” by Fibonacci Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In his ongoing quest to ensure Louisiana women do not have access to safe abortions, Attorney General Jeff Landry convinced a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to reinstate the “trigger ban” on abortions on July 29. The ban is expected to take effect almost immediately. The abortion clinics and doctors who are the plaintiffs in the case also have the option to mount an appeal with the Louisiana Supreme Court. Attorneys for the abortion providers were disappointed that the court did not allow them to file opposition to Landry’s motion. 

Still, with a state supreme court dominated by conservatives, there is much speculation that legal abortions in Louisiana will not survive. For the third time since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Louisiana women will have to consider other options to terminate their pregnancies, travel to other states like California, Illinois or New Mexico where abortions are still legal or make what could be a difficult decision to give birth.

Abortions pills are available by prescription in Louisiana for use by women who are less than eight weeks into their pregnancy. But they also fall under the “trigger ban”. Emergency contraception including Plan B, for women who have had unprotected sex less than 72 hours prior, is not covered by the new law. Other emergency contraception medications offer a five day effective window. “According to state law, out of state companies cannot ship the abortion pill into Louisiana. However this is likely unconstitutional and unenforceable but of course has not been challenged yet,” said State Representative Mandie Landry. 

According to NPR, the uncertainty around abortion access in states where abortion is now or could become illegal, plus the fear of future legal fights over long-term contraception, has seemingly spurred a rise in the number of people- including those in their 20’s and 30’s – seeking surgical sterilization, according to reports from doctors. 

Since the 1930’s women have considered “getting your tubes tied,” as a safe surgical procedure to prevent pregnancy but that can be reversible. Today more women are opting for sterilization by salpingectomy, the complete removal of the fallopian tubes, which is permanent. Women are even holding “sterilization showers” to celebrate those decisions. Both surgeries are performed by OB-GYNs and may not be covered by insurance. The number of women seeking hysterectomies will probably also grow. More men are also considering having vasectomies to prevent unintended pregnancies in their partners. Megan Kavanaugh, a researcher for the data-gathering , told NPR that new numbers on permanent sterilization would be clear by 2023. 

Some women’s health advocates also believe that future legislation might attack contraception. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has indirectly said that other precedents could be revisited. 

The New York Times reported this week that “states with abortion bans are among the least supportive for mothers and children.” They tend to have the, “weakest social services and the worst results in several categories of health and well-being,” including the percentage of children living in poverty, uninsured women, uninsured children, low birthweight babies, teen births, infant mortality and maternal mortality. Their research indicates that Louisiana ranks 28th in uninsured women, 46th in maternal mortality, 29th in infant mortality, and 49th in child poverty.     

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