In September of last year the Center for American Progress released “The State of Women in America: A 50-State Analysis of How Women Are Faring Across the Nation.” According to their findings, Louisiana ranks last in overall welfare for women. The study examined 36 different factors to illustrate the multitude of issues that affect a woman’s capacity to thrive within her environment. The primary reasons cited for this abysmal ranking were: a high wage gap (Louisiana women make only $0.67 per $1.00 white men make on average), percentage of women and girls in poverty (22.2%), lack of access to health care, numerous restrictions on abortion services, the refusal of Medicaid expansion, and high maternal and infant mortality rates. All of these policies are statistically more detrimental to women of color, who happen to make up a significant portion of Louisiana’s population.
Armed with this knowledge, I cannot imagine why Louisiana politicians insist on attempting to unconstitutionally limit a woman’s ability to choose with onerous bills like HB 388. This bill will eliminate reputable abortion providers that are unable to obtain the medically unnecessary admitting privileges required. With the current condition for women in this state, I do not see how we can afford to impose additional barriers in their pursuit of a higher quality of life.
If these regulations pass, they will devastate this state. They will force women to bear children they cannot or will not care for or worse, turn to completely unregulated methods like self-induced abortion or illegal providers and facilities. Louisiana has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies; of those pregnancies carried to term, the majority of prenatal and birth costs are covered by the state. Statistics show that unwanted children are exposed to much higher rates of abuse, neglect, and poverty; they perform more poorly in school and later on in life. Unwanted pregnancies are a burden on our state fiscally, but they are also cruel. They are cruel to children who are subjected to this treatment; they are cruel to women who will either be relegated to the role of human incubators or forced to seek out dangerous, potentially lethal, alternatives to safe and accessible abortion care. Louisiana women and children deserve better than this. These regulations clearly do not do anything to improve the state of women’s healthcare in Louisiana, they practically eliminate it.
By Katie Caldwell