Earlier this year, a rigorous report from the nonpartisan medical experts at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that state and local regulations on abortion providers and clinics are medically unnecessary, and are the greatest threat to quality abortion care. “In many states,” the report concludes, “regulations have created barriers to safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable abortion services.”
A 15-week ban recently signed into law by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is precisely the type the report warns against—and it joins a slew of harmful abortion restrictions in the state that mislead women, delay care, require unnecessary tests and make abortion care more expensive.
Emboldened by an administration that blatantly disregards women’s health and autonomy, politicians across the country continue to chip away at women’s access to safe, quality abortion care. Recent anti-abortion laws in Iowa and Wisconsin, among others, have made headlines and brought lawsuits. Every unnecessary barrier delays or blocks women, especially women of color and low-income women, from getting the care they need.
Louisiana’s law, one of the most restrictive in the country, even imposes a prison sentence on abortion providers who violate the policy—and although it won’t take effect until a legal challenge to a similar ban in neighboring Mississippi is decided, the state has long been a bad actor when it comes to reproductive rights, enacting restriction after restriction to limit women’s access to abortion care despite ample scientific evidence that abortion is safe.
Many of these restrictions are outlined in a new report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, which details the ways that Louisiana is actively pushing safe, quality abortion care out of reach. For example, Louisiana abortion providers are required to give women state-drafted materials that include biased, misleading and medically unnecessary information, including information about fake women’s health centers that deceive and shame women. Providers are also forced to administer a mandatory ultrasound, display the image and describe it—whether or not a woman objects.
Louisiana also has a 24-hour mandatory delay that forces women to make medically unnecessary second trips to clinics to receive abortion care, and in 2016, lawmakers passed a law attempting to triple that wait time. Additionally, abortion in Louisiana is subject to the requirement that only physicians can provide abortion care—even though evidence proves that advanced practice clinicians, such as nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants, can safely and effectively provide such care. Louisiana also has a ban on providing medication abortion via telemedicine, in spite of the fact that telemedicine is safe and improves access to care.
We’re fighting back with facts—and we need help from abortion rights activists across the country. To educate Louisianans with the truth about the harms of medically unnecessary abortion restrictions, we’ve launched a public education campaign in Louisiana.