Amy Irvin's Testimony for SB 184's Senate Committee Hearing

Good morning.

My name is Amy Irvin and I am the Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund.

The New Orleans Abortion Fund provides financial assistance to women who cannot afford the full cost of abortion care. Working with local medical providers, we provide compassionate and empowering assistance to women seeking abortions and distribute pledges as available. We affirm a woman's right to control her body and her destiny, and work to ensure that all people have access to quality medical care, regardless of their economic situation.

 Today, I am here to testify against SB184, an unconstitutional ban on abortion that ignores our clients’ needs and circumstances. In fact, SB 184 would ban abortion before most women even know they are pregnant. It is a far-reaching bill that goes against 45 years of precedent. It prohibits abortion long before the state has the right to do so and fails to adequately protect women’s health throughout pregnancy, as required by the Supreme Court. This will drag Louisiana into a costly battle at the Supreme Court, stretching our state’s resources thin at a time when we could be supporting education, primary health care, and other vital services.

 But that’s the point: National polls consistently show that 7 in 10 Americans support legal access to abortion. Yet, politicians and national antichoice organizations promoting these bans have made no secret of the fact that their core objective is to ban all abortion, including in cases of rape and incest, and even when a woman’s health is at risk.

The decision to have an abortion is a personal medical decision made in consultation with her doctor, as well as faith leaders, family, and other people close to her, not by politicians. In a state with dismal health outcomes and high rates of maternal and infant mortality, passing such a ban in Louisiana poses a serious threat to women’s health, their families, and their futures. We trust Louisianans to carefully consider their options and obtain the care they need. So should you.

Louisianans need more healthcare, not political posturing. If you were truly concerned about reducing the need for abortion, you would fight for accurate sex education, equal pay, minimum wage and common sense measures that support working families. These bans are not about protecting women’s health and well-being. Instead, they are advancing a political and ideological agenda that will deny women their self-determination by eliminating their ability to plan their families.

Low-income women, women of color, rural women, and women who are abused or assaulted will suffer the brunt of this ban. It will force women seeking abortion services back into dangerous, desperate situations, reviving the public health crisis that existed before Roe v. Wade. Or, sadly, have children they are not prepared to raise, because we’ve abdicated our responsibility to provide for children and families.

Louisianans seeking abortion deserve better from lawmakers.  In this time of economic insecurity, when our society's safety net is being decimated, placing additional barriers on health care is unnecessary and cruel.  We trust Louisianans to carefully consider their options and obtain the care they need.  If you vote to ban abortion before most women even know they are pregnant, you are putting political ideology over sensible public health and respect for women. As this bill moves through the Louisiana Senate, we call on you and your colleagues to trust your constituents --- to trust Louisiana women.

NOAF's Official Response to the SCOTUS's Ruling

Louisianans can breathe a momentary sigh of relief. Last night, the US Supreme Court granted an emergency stay to block a law from taking effect that would have shut down some of the last three abortion clinics in Louisiana. The medically-unnecessary law, which is identical to one struck down as unconstitutional less than three years ago, requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The justices voted 5-4 to grant the stay, with a dissenting opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Today, clinics are open and are seeing patients, but our work is not done. While this emergency stay was granted, the law still needs to go before the US Supreme Court. We need to keep the pressure going to overturn medically unnecessary laws that threaten access to care.  We need justices who will fulfill the promises they made when they were confirmed. We need legislators who will boldly advocate for abortion access.

"The majority of Americans support access to abortion care, and do not want to see abortion made illegal," said Amy Irvin, executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. "Now is the time to listen to people in our community who need abortions, talk to your friends, and to call your legislators. We must take advantage of this moment to build a grassroots movement to ensure access to abortion in our state."

The New Orleans Abortion Fund stands with the 1 million Louisianans of reproductive age who seek affordable healthcare. 1 in 4 U.S. women will have an abortion before she is 45. States cannot directly outlaw all abortions under Roe v. Wade.  But that right means nothing if abortion is inaccessible as it so often is for rural patients, low-income people, women of color, and other individuals who are already disadvantaged by our healthcare system. Louisiana needs more healthcare, not extremism.

NOAF's Official Response to the 5th Circuit's Rehearing Denial

Friday was the kind of day you don't want to repeat often.

As you may have noted in the news, Attorney General Landry announced last Tuesday that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Center for Reproductive Rights' petition for an en banc rehearing to the challenge of the Louisiana admitting privileges. Thus, the law was set to go into effect today Monday, January 28.

In response, last Friday the Center filed a motion with the Fifth Circuit to stay the mandate while they asked SCOTUS to weigh in on the case. It was swiftly denied. The Center then filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court to block the Louisiana law, which is now slated to go into effect on February 4.

In a press release issued late Friday, Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center said "The Fifth Circuit brazenly ignored recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent squarely on point. We are filing an emergency motion today with the Supreme Court to block this law before women in Louisiana are harmed. There is no way this law can stand under the Supreme Court ruling in  Whole Woman's Health, which struck down the same law in Texas." 

In the meantime, all three clinics are open and operating, and the New Orleans Abortion Fund continues to provide valuable financial assistance to callers seeking care.

NOAF stands with Louisianans and people across the Gulf Coast who will be hurt by this decision. We will continue to provide financial assistance, education, and fight back against these draconian laws that disproportionately impact low-income patients, people in rural communities, women of color, undocumented immigrants, people impacted by trauma, and other marginalized Louisianans.

To meet the challenge we doubled our weekly intake budget, and are exploring additional practical support services, as well as working with clinics and coalition partners to field media requests and educate the larger community about the impact possible clinic closures may have on our community. 

These regulations have no basis in medical necessity. Abortion providers are licensed and well-trained, clinics are safe, and fewer than 1% of abortion patients experience any complications. The Roe v. Wade anniversary that we honored just last week commemorates legal abortion, but it means nothing if abortion is inaccessible. Louisiana needs more healthcare, not extremism. 

As always, I thank you for your steadfast support of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. With your help, we will continue to provide clinic escorting and financial assistance to those seeking abortion care. NOAF has fought for abortion access in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Coast since 2012, and we're not giving up now.

In solidarity,

Amy Irvin, MSSW
Executive Director
New Orleans Abortion Fund

Intern Spotlight: Miranda Hayes

Miranda Hayes.png

Before I began my first semester of sophomore year at Tulane University, I was looking for a meaningful way to get involved with women’s rights activism in New Orleans.  I knew about the New Orleans Abortion Fund from Newcomb-Tulane College and I’ve always been passionate about reproductive rights issues, so I felt that interning for this organization would be a rewarding experience.  After my undergraduate education, I plan on attending law school and possibly studying civil rights or international law.   

As I reach the end of my internship, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with NOAF.  Learning more about managing and funding a non-profit organization was one of my favorite parts of this semester, and my responsibilities as an intern helped me to grow as a future employee and improve my communication skills.  My assignments mostly involved assisting with the organization of fundraising events and promoting NOAF’s online store and events.  I also took over posting on the Instagram account and helped with administrative tasks in the workplace, such as taking inventory and researching possible donors.  Helping to organize Sex-Ed Bingo—one of NOAF’s most profitable events—was also a significant portion of my responsibilities.   

Throughout this internship I had many opportunities to leave campus and meet people living in New Orleans, which helped me understand the city as more than just a place to have fun outside of school.  I hope to keep getting involved with social activism outside of school, and I would recommend the New Orleans Abortion Fund as an ideal organization for anyone who also wants to step outside the Tulane bubble.

Amy's Speech at the Rally to Oppose 5th Circuit Court Ruling

My name is Amy Irvin, and I am the Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. Welcome and thank you for coming.

We’re here to oppose the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and to shed light on a recent 5th Circuit Court ruling that upholds a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, a requirement that the Supreme Court has said has no health benefit to women.

Abortion providers are board certified, licensed Ob/GYn or Family practice physicians, and the complication rate from abortion is less than 1%.

Yet, if this Louisiana law is enacted, it will close down most providers in a state that only has three abortion clinics. Already women are traveling across state lines to get safe, legal abortion. The attack on healthcare must stop.

It’s hard to have hope when a sitting president, accused of sexual assault, mocks a survivor at a MS rally. And nominates a Judge Kavanaugh, also accused of sexual assault for a life-time position on the Supreme Court.

It’s hard to have hope when the 5th Circuit Court ignores a lower District Court ruling, and Supreme Court precedent that guarantees the right to abortion.

It’s hard to have hope when year after year Louisiana legislators author and overwhelmingly support anti-choice legislation that denies women their constitutional rights.

This is a harrowing reminder that politicians want to make abortion illegal and inaccessible, and that we often depend on the courts to ensure access.

It should be noted that the admitting privileges bill was authored by Representative Katrina Jackson, a Democrat, and signed into law by then Governor Jindal.

That the 15-week abortion ban was introduced this year by Democratic Senator John Milkovich and signed by Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat.

And the Louisiana “trigger law,” which will make abortion illegal if a Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, was authored by Democrat Ben Nevers and signed into law in 2006 by Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Both Republican and Democrat politicians author, vote for, and sign anti-choice legislation, yet don't support sex education, equal pay, or minimum wage bills which truly protect women's health and welfare. Who can we count on to represent us?

Yes, it is hard to have hope.

But YOU have the opportunity to be the change you want to see by having kitchen table conversations with friends and loved ones about the issues that matter most to you. By working to elect candidates that reflect our progressive values --- we must work to Get Out the Vote by calling, canvassing and providing rides to the polls on Election Day. WE MUST VOTE!

You have taken the first step for change today by being here. Please, don’t let this be your last action.

NOAF's Response to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a Louisiana law requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The implications for clinic closures is terrifying. Due to pressure and threats from antichoice ideologues, and the overall safety of abortion and the low likelihood of hospitalization, hospitals are reluctant to grant privileges to abortion providers, even in major cities. This law would also almost guarantee that providers in rural areas would never get privileges were a clinic to open there.

If this ruling is enacted, it will close down most providers in a state that only has three clinics that perform abortions. This ruling will have a disproportionate impact on rural patients, low-income people, women of color, and other individuals who are already disadvantaged by our healthcare system, and will face tremendous barriers in order to secure out-of-state travel.

The 2-1 decision reversed US Supreme Court and Louisiana district court precedent, which held that the admitting privileges law was unconstitutional based on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.  An injunction blocking the law will remain in place until October 18th. At this point, all three clinics are open, but the situation is dire.

This is a harrowing reminder that politicians want to make abortion illegal and inaccessible, and that we often depend on the courts to ensure access. The doctors who perform abortions in Louisiana are capable, professional, and compassionate, and abortion has less than a 1% complication rate. Regulations like this are designed specifically to end access to abortion.

However, we will continue our work of providing assistance to people seeking abortion care, normalizing abortion as a safe and necessary healthcare, and eliminating the stigma and shame surrounding abortion. Now is the time to educate and mobilize. State and national politics can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to discern the most urgent issues. If we want to preserve abortion access for Louisianans, this is the time to act.

Louisiana Abortion Stories Project

In conjunction with NOAF OutLoud, the Louisiana Abortion Stories Project seeks to address abortion stigma at the individual and community levels through recording first-person narratives. The project explores decision-making about abortion care; experiences with sex education; and the impact of community values and religious perspectives on reproductive health, education, and public policy, as well as a deeper examination of the social, logistical, and financial barriers in accessing abortion care.

If you are interested in sharing your abortion story, contact Elizabeth Gelvin at

Open Access

Open Access, a bi-weekly web series produced by the New Orleans Abortion Fund, aims to engage advocates from local and statewide organizations about their work through casual conversation. Exploring the role of women in leadership, the possibility of collaboration between issue groups, and how reproductive rights fits into a larger framework, Open Access explores activism and advocacy in our community, and invites community members to become involved.

Whether discussing abortion access, sex education in schools or harm reduction, hosts Hannah Baldo and Moira Glace bring a sense of humor and curiosity to any interview. To appear on Open Access, email Hannah Baldo at

Subscribe to Open Access here!

Catch DJ VJJ on WHIV!

Got sex questions? DJ VJJ is here for you! Longtime NOAF supporter DJ VJJ is on WHIV (102.3 FM) every Sunday from 3-4pm, as part of ProFrequency. Stream on the WHIV site or listen on the radio.

If you want to ask a question, call or text 504-867-8914 to leave a voicemail about the topic to be covered. August 5: sex after an abortion, miscarriage, birth, and insertion of an IUD. August 12: "Masturbation: some methods for safe fulfilling pleasure."


Press Release: Louisiana is Ground Zero for Abortion Access with Kavanaugh Nomination

NEW ORLEANS — President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, a far-right conservative hostile to abortion rights and equal access to healthcare, for Supreme Court Justice makes Louisiana ground zero if Roe v. Wade is overturned, say Louisiana reproductive rights organizations.

“Allowing President Trump to appoint another justice to the Supreme Court threatens to undermine what generations among us have fought so hard to protect,” said Angela Adkins, Legislative Director of NOW Louisiana. “For decades, the Supreme Court has been the final defense against infringement on our fundamental rights. When the next nominee takes the bench, we are in danger of losing those protections.”

Louisiana is one of four states with a “trigger law,” a state law banning abortion that would instantly take effect if Roe is overturned. Louisiana's law criminalizes abortion, and punishes anyone who performs or aides in abortion with up to 10 years in prison. Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota also have trigger laws. Another 20 states may be effected by a reversal of Roe, experts report.

"The vacancy left by Justice Kennedy's retirement at such a crucial moment will surely determine the future of this country. For decades, anti-abortion zealots have chipped away at the rights assured in Roe through mandatory delays, targeted regulations of abortion providers, and government-funded fake clinics that lie to patients about the options available to them," said Amy Irvin, Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. "These attacks, coupled with growing inequality in the U.S, have pushed abortion almost out of reach for many people. Another judge appointed by President Donald Trump could end access to legal abortion altogether."

Abortion restrictions in Louisiana are already some of the most restrictive in the country, with a parental consent law, a 24-hour waiting period, and bans on private insurance and Medicaid coverage. In 2016 seven anti-choice bills were signed into law by Louisiana lawmakers, all of them currently being litigated by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"We are facing a more severe threat to abortion access now than we ever have so it is alarming to think that Louisiana women will not be able to rely on the protection of the Supreme Court to uphold our rights,” said Michelle Erenberg, Director of Lift Louisiana. "Even if Roe isn't overturned, we are likely to see more clinics close, longer mandatory waiting periods for women trying to obtain an abortion, and a ban on abortions after fifteen weeks."

Act 197, an extreme and dangerous bill that prohibits abortion after 15-weeks of gestation, passed overwhelmingly in the House (86-0) and Senate (34-0) and was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in May. The law goes into effect only if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a similar Mississippi ban. Louisiana already imposes a 20- week ban, requiring women seeking late-term abortion care to travel out of state.

“We are disappointed but not surprised that President Trump picked a nominee that was hand-selected by the Religious Right lobby and ultraconservative Catholic groups at the expense of the vast majority of the faithful who believe in social justice and a woman’s right to choose,” says Jon O’ Brien, President of Catholics for Choice. “More than 60 percent of Catholics believe abortion should be legal; six in 10 Catholic voters say that abortion can be a moral choice; and Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as women of other faiths or no faith. Judge Kavanaugh and his supporter’s ultraconservative views do not represent the majority of ordinary Catholics, in Louisiana or across the nation.”

"Reproductive rights in this country are under attack. The Trump administration's pick of Judge Brett Kavanaugh reflects a radical departure from both judicial precedent and public opinion,” says Henry Walther, President of Tulane College Democrats. “The consequences of this decision will be felt by millions of women whose voices have been silenced and bodily autonomy disrespected."


  • AAUW of Louisiana
  • Catholics for Choice
  • Democratic Women of Acadiana
  • Feminist Majority Foundation
  • If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Tulane Law Chapter
  • Lift Louisiana
  • Medical Students for Choice --- Tulane University
  • Medical Students for Choice --- Louisiana State University
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Organization for Women (NOW) Louisiana
  • National Organization for Women (NOW) Baton Rouge
  • National Organization for Women (NOW) New Orleans
  • National Organization for Women (NOW) Shreveport
  • New Orleans Abortion Fund
  • Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast
  • Progressive Social Network Baton Rouge
  • Social Workers United for Reproductive Freedom

Women's Lobby Day

Executive Director Amy Irvin with our organizing partners from Lift Louisiana, Feminist Majority Foundation, Women with a Vision, Catholics for Choice, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, & the National Center for Jewish Women LA (left to right).

Executive Director Amy Irvin with our organizing partners from Lift Louisiana, Feminist Majority Foundation, Women with a Vision, Catholics for Choice, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, & the National Center for Jewish Women LA (left to right).

On Wednesday April 11th, NOAF joined our coalition partners for a day of networking, lobbying, and educating at the Louisiana State Capitol. 

Over 100 participants converged on the State Capitol spent Wednesday morning taking a tour of the capitol building, learning about the committee hearings, and meeting staff members from Lift Louisiana, Women with a Vision, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, the Feminist Majority Foundation, Catholics for Choice, the National Center for Jewish Women, Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, and others. In the afternoon, we heard from members of these organizations and others about bills affecting issues ranging from comprehensive sex education to HIV decriminalization, voting reform, LGBTQA+ rights, abortion restrictions, and many more. Finally we received a crash-course in lobbying, which covered how to use & fill out comment cards and how to get these cards to our senators and house representatives on the floor. 

A group of NOAF supporters headed over to the Senate floor to send messages to their senators regarding SB-181, a bill proposed by Senator Milkovich designed to prohibit abortion procedures past 15 weeks.

Read more about the day's events here!

Another Obstacle for Louisiana Patients Seeking Abortion Care as the Number of Clinics Drops to Three

One year ago, NOAF released the following statement about the declining number of clinics in Louisiana. 

The New Orleans Abortion Fund is saddened to hear of the closure of Bossier City Medical Suites, one of the few clinics in Louisiana offering abortion care.  For years, Bossier City Medical Suite provided safe and compassionate abortion care in Northwest Louisiana; its owner has decided to cease operations, however.  The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has onerous regulations specifically targeting abortion providers that make it nearly impossible to transfer ownership of a clinic that provides abortion care.  This brings the total number of clinics in Louisiana to three. 

"The Louisiana legislature and Department of Health have imposed countless restrictions on abortion care, many of which have been found to be unconstitutional," said Amy Irvin, Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, which provides financial assistance to clients who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion.  "Despite the fact that the state has some of the worst health outcomes for women and children, policymakers concentrate their efforts on restricting reproductive freedom.  These regulations disproportionately impact people in rural areas, low-income women, women of color, and other marginalized individuals." 

Now, as the legislative session (and another year of attacks) begins, patients in Louisiana who need abortion care have even fewer places to turn.  The New Orleans Abortion Fund calls on LDH Secretary Gee and the Louisiana legislature to cease their attacks on abortion access, and work for comprehensive health care services for all Louisianans. 

As the three clinics in the state work to absorb the patients who would have gone to Bossier City Medical Suite, the New Orleans Abortion Fund continues its mission of dismantling political, ideological, and financial barriers to abortion care.  To support, please visit

The Founding of Our Fund

The New Orleans Abortion Fund was started by co-founders Amy Irvin and Jessie Nieblas over a cup of coffee in the spring of 2012. Both were new arrivals to New Orleans with previous experience with abortion funds in other cities. Additionally, Amy had experienced the burdensome regulations that often deny individuals access to abortion care as a recent patient at Women’s Health Care Center. Upon meeting that spring afternoon they decided to start a fund with the help of the National Network of Abortion Funds and spent the summer at local coffee shops with other supporters to write the articles of incorporation, recruit volunteers and develop a fundraising plan. The first fundraiser was a garage sale held at Amy’s St. Charles Avenue apartment that raised $200; her boyfriend became the first major donor with a pledge of $500, the cost of a medical abortion.

Tulane University students, representing emerging student groups such as Students United for Reproductive Justice (SURJ), Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ), Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) and Social Work Students United for Reproductive Freedom (SWURF), were integral to the early work of the Fund. Co-founder Jessie Nieblas was a graduate student in the Tulane University Masters of Public Health program. As part of her studies, she was doing an internship at the Newcomb College Institute, where Assistant Director Laura Wolford worked and offered to host our first house party. Other student leaders, such as Jessica Kincman, Bethany Van Kampen, Tamara Dukich, Jennifer Chin, and Lamia Abi Samra either served as board members or were on the first intake committee, taking calls to the hotline and coordinating pledges with the Fund’s partner clinic Women’s Health Care Center, where Amy had been a patient. In April 2013 the Fund made its first pledge and has since assisted more than 1,100 clients in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.

From its inception, the New Orleans Abortion Fund recognized the importance of community engagement and advocacy. In September 2013 the Fund held its first public event to honor Sylvia Cochran for four decades of work in New Orleans as a clinic administrator and raise awareness about the Hyde Amendment, federal legislation that primarily impacts low-income individuals on Medicaid. Later that year, the Fund and its student allies successfully protested “emergency rules” issued by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) that threatened to close all five abortion clinics in the state. Anticipating anti-choice legislation in the 2014 legislative session, particularly an admitting privileges bill similar to Texas legislation, the Fund joined with student and community partners to form the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (LCRF), which now comprises 17 organizations.

With small grants from the National Network of Abortion Funds for advocacy, the Fund offers a pro-choice perspective during the Louisiana Legislative Session, consistently testifying in committee hearings, doing media interviews and engaging our supporters and community about anti-choice legislation. As the only abortion fund in the state, the New Orleans Abortion Fund is uniquely positioned to raise the voices and lived experiences of the marginalized people and families it serves in all its advocacy, communications, and outreach.

The New Orleans Abortion Fund has steadily grown in its staffing and program capacity with generous support from the Packard Foundation. This includes the development of a clinic escort committee, initially started in the summer of 2014 when Operation Save America descended onto New Orleans to harass clinic patients. With the help of Feminist Majority Foundation, NOAF trained clinic escorts and legal observers to protect clinics. In 2014, the Fund hired an intake coordinator to hold monthly intake committee meetings, train intake members, and coordinate pledges with our partner clinics. In January 2016, the Fund hired its first executive director and a clinic escort coordinator in June. Of course, the majority of the Fund’s work continues to be done by volunteer members who generously give of their time, support and money to fulfill the organization’s mission.

The Fund would like to acknowledge founding board members Amy Irvin, Jessie Nieblas, and Jessica Kincman, as well as past and current board members Bethany VanKampen, Sylvia Cochran, Jackie Krugler, Jules Richelson, Mike Stagg and Maria Wickstrom. The work of the intake committee could not have been accomplished without intake coordinators Lamia AbiSamra, Marlo Barrera and Catherine “Cat” Patteson. Finally, long-time supporter Winter Randall served  as the Fund's first clinic escort coordinator; the position is now held by Olivia Anderson. Amy Irvin serves as the executive director.