NEW ORLEANS — Holding signs in protest, folks rallied outside the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans Tuesday with a message.
“We believe in bodily autonomy. We believe that you should have the right to make decisions about your own body,” said Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom coalition coordinator Jessica Frankel.
The rally comes after a draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court, indicating an overturn of Roe v Wade, ending nearly fifty years of federally protected abortion rights.
“Not only women need abortions. “Non-binary, trans folks also need abortions and I also want to acknowledge how far out of reach abortion access is already for so many people, especially in Louisiana,” said Frankel.
Frankel says Louisiana’s 2006 law to ban abortions, if Roe v Wade is overturned would shut down the state’s three abortion clinics in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport.
“There’s also abortion pills available and self-managed abortions so there are ways to have a safe abortion even if you aren’t able to travel,” said Frankel.
With most southern states set to ban abortions as well, Frankel says Illinois would be the closest state for a procedure. Major companies, like Amazon and Yelp, are offering to pay travel costs for employees.
“What should be dominating the conversation is abortion is not the solution,” said Louisiana Right to Life Communications Director Sarah Zagorski. “Women in crisis have always been veered toward abortion. Now we have this amazing opportunity in history to say, ‘OK, what actually will help you instead of this.’”
Zagorski says that opportunity exists through services like pregnancy centers, counseling, housing, and adoption.
“We’ve been trying to get these resources together for the last couple of years as we’ve seen this turn,” said Zagorski. “Almost like filling in the gap, like we’re going to be forced to support women in this way by providing them with what they need rather than telling them that abortion is the only solution.”
It’s a solution pro-choice advocates would rather call an option, and one that may no longer exist in Louisiana.
“When we think about this right being taken away, it’s opening the door for other civil rights and other issues to be rolled back too, in terms of racial justice, and in terms of LGBTQ+ rights,” said Frankel.
Although this draft opinion is authentic, it is not the final ruling, though it is likely to be. The Supreme Court is not set to release the final version until later this Summer.