Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft is explicit: “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” In Louisiana, “the people’s elected representatives” put forth legislation to arrest pregnant people for murder.
On Wednesday, a Louisiana House committee advanced a bill that would criminalize people who have abortions. The outcome that conservatives swore up and down wouldn’t happen—We’re only punishing the doctors, not the patients!—is here.
We should all be terrified. Conservative lawmakers are moving away from the civil charges strategy of Texas’ six-week abortion ban (in which citizens can sue the abortion provider in civil court for $10,000 or more in damages if they prove an abortion was provided after the limit) and its copycat laws...to amending the fucking criminal code.
This bill, if enacted, would allow Louisiana prosecutors to criminally charge abortion patients and classify abortion as a homicide. Thus far, conservative lawmakers have stuck to the idea of only targeting abortion providers as they didn’t want to be seen as throwing pregnant people in jail for not wanting to be pregnant.
Well, that’s out the window, and this bill is headed to the full Louisiana House for a vote.
We’ve already, quite recently, seen what this looks like: Just last month, a 26-year-old Texas woman was arrested and charged with murder for self-managing an abortion after the hospital staff reported her.
It does not matter what conservatives say they want to do. It only matters what words they are trying to codify. “We’ve been waiting 50 years to get to this point,” said state Rep. Danny McCormick (R-obvi), at the hearing in support of his bill.
What’s even more concerning than the text of the bill is the horrifying path it has toward becoming law: The State House and Senate in Louisiana are, of course, controlled by Republicans. So, unless Republicans decide to stop or stall the bill in the legislative process, the next stop is the governor’s desk.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is one of those Democrats who is openly hostile to abortion rights. Edwards signed a six-week abortion ban with zero rape or incest exceptions back in 2019. He should not be seen as an ally, but instead a cautionary tale about who we choose to elect.
On top of all of this, Louisiana also has a trigger ban on the books, meaning if Roe is overturned, abortion will be completely banned in the state.