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."

Signed,

  • 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