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.