Acadiana residents seeking an abortion would likely have to travel 750 miles to Kansas or 1,000 miles to New Mexico to get an abortion if Roe v. Wade is canceled.
The United States Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that guaranteed the right to abortion for Americans in 1973. If that happens, Louisiana and other states have laws that would go into effect immediately, severely limiting or effectively prohibiting access to abortion.
Abortion would immediately become illegal in Louisiana if the leaked draft of the United States Supreme Court’s opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing women the right to abortion were upheld when officially published in June.
More severe penalties:Louisiana House passes bill to criminalize abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest
That’s because a 2006 “trigger law” drafted by former Democratic senator Ben Nevers and signed by former Democratic governor Kathleen Blanco is expected to come into effect as part of the scenario.
A bill that would criminalize abortion in Louisiana without exception for rape or incest if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its landmark Roe v. Wade was nearly passed in June after clearing the House in a bipartisan vote.
Democratic Senator Katrina Jackson’s bill specifically exempts pregnant women from prosecution, but doubles the 2006 penalties for doctors or others who terminate pregnancies to a maximum fine of $100,000 and 10 years in prison.
Other southern states like Georgia have near-total bans that make abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy.
Florida would be the closest option for Louisiana residents, but the future of access in the state is unclear. Florida recently passed a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, making it a relatively unrestricted state among those with partial bans, most of which do not allow abortions after six weeks.
Whether Florida officials further limit access if Roe is knocked down remains to be seen.
New Mexico has some of the most accessible abortion laws in the country. No waiting period or parental involvement is required. The state has clinics in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, all about 1,000 miles — a 14-hour drive — from Lafayette.
Although trips to Wichita or Kansas City are shorter — around 750 miles — Kansas has more restrictions, according to the Guttmacher Institute:
- A patient should receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage them to have an abortion, then wait 24 hours before the procedure is performed.
- Private insurance policies only cover abortion if life threatening, unless individuals purchase an optional rider at an additional cost.
- The use of telemedicine to administer medical abortion is prohibited.
- The parents of a minor must give their consent before an abortion is performed.
- A patient must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must offer the patient the possibility of viewing the image.
- An abortion can be performed 20 weeks or more after fertilization (22 weeks after the last menstrual period) only in cases of seriously compromised life or physical health.
Charlotte, North Carolina is another option – closer than New Mexico but containing similar barriers to Kansas.
The cost of traveling to other states to have an abortion and the associated medical costs would have a disproportionate impact on low-income people.
In 2014, 49% of abortion patients had household incomes below the federal poverty level, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Although medical clinics would stop providing abortion procedures, there is another increasingly popular method of obtaining an abortion. Pill-taking accounts for more than half of abortions in the United States, according to 2020 data from the Guttmacher Institute.
That means more people in Louisiana and other states where abortion bans go into effect will likely depend on the pills, which can be mailed to Louisiana homes from other states — an interstate trade that cannot. be regulated only by the federal government.
The Louisiana legislature, however, is also considering restricting access to these.
Senate Bill 388, introduced in early June by Republican Senator Slidell Sharon Hewitt, would make it illegal for companies to supply the two drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol – through the mail with criminal penalties as consequences.
The share of people using abortion pills has grown rapidly since the process became easier to access in 2016 and during the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to increase even more if Roe v. Wade is canceled.
The two pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, are taken about two days apart. In many areas, only a telemedicine visit is needed to get them from a pharmacy. The pills are cheaper and less invasive than an abortion procedure, and when used within the first 10 weeks of gestation, they safely end 99.6% of pregnancies with very low complication rates .
After:Louisiana Legislature Passes Bill Banning Mail Order Abortion Drugs
Hewitt stressed that the criminal penalties would not apply to the women ordering or taking the drugs, only to the companies shipping them. The bill does not prohibit emergency contraceptives such as the so-called morning after pill.
Louisiana law already requires that abortion drugs be dispensed and taken only in the physical presence of a physician, but Hewitt said the current law “isn’t clear enough.”
Hewitt’s bill now goes to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk and will become law Aug. 1 unless he vetoes the legislation.