What Louisiana’s Amendment 1 means for Reproductive Rights

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The article by Daily Campus contributor Katherine Jimenez breaks down the situation regarding Louisiana's Amendment 1, and the politics surrounding abortion, birth control, and contraception in today's divided nation. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On Nov. 3, a Louisiana Constitutional Amendment read, “Do you support an amendment declaring that, to protect human life, a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution?” 62 % of responders answered yes, allowing the amendment to pass and thus further restricting abortion rights in the state of Louisiana. The amendment is, for now, just symbolic and would need an overturning of Roe v. Wade to have a real effect on abortion laws. 

In 2006, Louisiana passed what is known as a “trigger law,” a law that, at present, is irrelevant but may achieve relevance if a key change in circumstances occurs. This law would ban most forms of abortion, unless the mother’s life is at risk, and has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Ten states currently have abortion trigger laws, and with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, it seems that the now conservative majority Supreme Court might overtturn the almost 50 year landmark case. This would leave abortion restrictions or protections up to state laws and not the federal government. 

Following the nomination and inauguration of Amy Coney Barrett as the seven circuit judge on the United States Supreme Court, many women have voiced their concern over the future of Roe v. Wade and women’s reproductive rights. Granted that the Supreme Court is now at a conservative majority, the possibility of an overturn of the landmark case is possible. Photo Courtesy of Robert Franklin of the South Bend Tribute (via Associated Press).

Medicaid, 37.5 % funded by the state and 62.5 % funded by the federal government, pays for the health services of over 76 million people in the United States who live near the poverty line or are disabled. The Hyde Amendment passed in 1976 blocks the use of federal funds for most forms of abortion. Thirty-four states limit abortion coverage, meaning that working class women would find it harder to cover the expenses. Thus, abortion care is driven by where you live. When states begin to restrict these funds—going on to completely take them away—pregnant women may find the need to leave the regions they reside in. Those who seek out illegal abortions can even be jailed, injured or killed. 

“abortion care is driven by where you live. When states begin to restrict these funds—going on to completely take them away—pregnant women may find the need to leave the regions they reside in. Those who seek out illegal abortions can even be jailed, injured or killed.”

Religious arguments claim that contraception is unnatural, anti-life and a form of abortion, separating sex from reproduction. Others may oppose the use of it due to its health risks, but birth control has been proven to decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies. Not just that, but abortion in general, as well as the use of female contraception, should be a woman’s choice given that it is her body, not a voter’s nor the government’s. The problem lies in the fact that finding affordable birth control isn’t easy, especially in rural and suburban areas. Not many Americans have the luxury that comes with having health insurance, a service that can cover the expenses of birth control. Common contraception options, such as Plan B, can be found in many pharmacies, with the catch being the hefty price. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more restrictions have been put on abortion laws when reproductive rights are an essential part of health care. It is not just time-sensitive but also critical to a woman’s health and rights. Studies show that women who are denied an abortion are more likely to face economic hardship than those who aren’t. The pandemic has become an excuse to further limit abortion laws and raise the risk of self-induced abortions. This isn’t safe or okay. One day, we may live in an America where the rights guaranteed thanks to Roe v. Wade will no longer be. Pregnancy affects women’s long-term opportunities, and if we see more of these amendments pass, such as that in Louisiana, we will see a higher rate of abandoned children as well as female mortality rates rise due to unnecessary, unjustified restrictions.  

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