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New Orleans files ordinance preventing usage of public funds for prosecuting abortions

The ordinance prevents law enforcement and city departments from using public funds to pursue investigation or prosecution of abortions.

NEW ORLEANS — The question of “can I be criminalized for seeking an abortion,” is one on many women’s mind now, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Tuesday, the City of New Orleans filed an ordinance prohibiting City departments and law enforcement from using public funds to pursue abortion criminalization. That involves any investigation or prosecutions, also stating that enforcement will be the "lowest priority for the City."

In a press release sent out Tuesday, New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno said in part, “This Council will continue to take any and all actions to protect human rights and support our doctors working tirelessly in our community.”

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is sparking conversation on whether people’s search history could be used to punish them for looking up information or how to access abortion services. That personal search history includes your internet searches, location history, call and text logs, emails and financial records, and period tracking apps.

Law expert at Louisiana State University, Professor Lisa Avalos says there’s no state law that criminalizes abortion seekers, but there is one that criminalizes providers. 

“If anybody is searching for any kind of information related to abortion or abortion providers, that’s really not a problem, people have the right to do that," says Avalos. “I’m not aware of any state right now that criminalizes a woman that seeks an abortion that’s not something that is down in the united states at all."

Loyola University law expert, Professor Judson Mitchell agrees, saying for a prosecutor to get their hands on your search history, they’d have to get permission first. Mitchell saying everyone is protected, “Completely covered by the fourth amendment, so now law enforcement knows, if they want to look at your phone, they have to get a search warrant.”

“The police don’t have the ability just to go find out what the people are thinking and searching about, that’s not a thing, it has to be in connection with a prosecution, a valid prosecution.”

In a statement, State Senator Sharon Hewitt said, “It has always been our position to not prosecute the moms . We are working to hold the abortion providers liable."

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