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Constitutional Amendment On Abortion Headed To Louisiana Voters in 2020

Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe)

On the second to last day of a legislative session where several abortion restrictions easily cleared the Legislature, lawmakers approved a proposed constitutional amendment that could reenforce anti-abortion policies in the state. 

If supported by voters, the amendment would protect a 2006 trigger law that would ban almost all abortions in Louisiana should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

“This bill still gives the people the right to choose whether or not the Louisiana constitution protects the right to abortion,” Representative Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), the bill's sponsor, told members of the House.

The proposal took on some changes before getting final approval.

House members quickly passed the measure, pausing only to question the decision to schedule the vote with the presidential election next year.

“It seems like we’d want to get this on the books sooner rather than later,” said Representative Cameron Henry (R-Metairie).

Jackson argued the November 2020 election will have the highest voter turnout.

Over in the Senate, Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) raised concerns about not including exceptions in the case of rape or incest. She said that should be addressed before the proposal leaves the Legislature.

“Why wouldn’t we protect women who are raped, or victims traumatized by incest, to make sure they get the healthcare they need and can take care of their bodies and they’re not required to carry the baby of a rapist?”

Soon after the Senate approved the proposed constitutional amendment, they also signed off on a bill that would require a woman seeking an early term abortion, often administered by a pill, to get the medicine from one of the state’s three abortion providers rather than an OBGYN.

Critics say the bill is intended to limit access to the procedure.

The Legislature has passed several abortion restrictions this session, most notably a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.