NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is one of more than a dozen states that have enacted laws that would ban all or nearly all abortions if Roe versus Wade were overturned.
The U.S. Supreme Court appears to be heading down that road, according to a leaked draft of a court opinion on the issue. It suggests the high court could be poised to strike down the 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the country.
“Louisiana will have laws that go into effect virtually immediately once this opinion becomes final,” Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino said.
Michelle Erenberg is from LIFT Louisiana, a non-profit that educates, advocates, and litigates for policies that would improve the health and wellbeing of Louisiana women and families.
“If this does become the final decision then it’s deeply concerning because millions of people will be harmed by this outcome,” Erenberg said. “The opinion seemed to indicate what we think we have known for quite some time, which is this Supreme Court is willing to and maybe even eager to overturn Roe v Wade.”
Louisiana Right to Life spokesperson Sarah Zagorski says it’s too soon to celebrate, but they see this draft opinion as the beginning of the end of legal abortion in the state.
“We are very hopeful this will be the final decision,” Zagorski said. “We believe we are ready for a post-Roe future.”
Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, says if Roe is overturned, women are still going to seek abortions.
“They’re going to do it through dangerous means, through illegal means, they’re going to seek out people who aren’t medical professionals,” Landry said. “They’re going to go to Mexico.”
Zagorski says a lot of science has emerged since 1973.
“That has shown the humanity of the child from the moment of fertilization is a unique member of the human family,” she said. “By 12 weeks all of his organs are formed. Ultimately, this person has intrinsic value.”
“I believe that people should be able to make decisions about what happens with their own lives and their own bodies free from government intrusion,” Erenberg said.
Professor Ciolino says the opinion is not so much about whether the justices in the majority are for or against abortion.
“According to the majority in this draft opinion, it should be the democratic branches of government. The legislatures of the states and perhaps Congress deciding whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal," Ciolino said.
This may not be the final opinion of the court, but it certainly shows which way justices are leaning.
Fifteen states, mostly in the north and west, and Washington, DC., have enacted laws that would protect abortions should roe be overturned.
Maryland and Illinois are the closest to Louisiana.