On Nov. 3, the state of Louisiana passed an amendment to its constitution explicitly saying it does not support any inherent right to abortion or funding for abortion. The amendment, which was sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Katrina Jackson, does not impact the legality of abortion or people’s access to it at present. But the amendment appears to be setting the state up to severely restrict access to abortions in the event Roe vs. Wade is overturned.
“This amendment makes sure there is no right to abortion or taxpayer funding of abortion in our state constitution,” said Jackson. “By passing this we can rest assured that, together with our state law, we will never become like New York, which recently legalized abortion up to the very moment before birth.”
Katrina Jackson’s ‘Love Life Amendment’ Passes
Amendment #1, or the “Love Life Amendment,” adds one sentence to the Louisiana state constitution: “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
Voters passed the amendment with 62.06 percent voting in favor of it and 37.94 percent voting against it. Not only was the amendment sponsored by Katrina Jackson, a pro-life Democratic state senator, but it also had the support of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. According to The Hill, Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the U.S. who opposes abortion.
In an ad promoting the amendment, Jackson said,
Sadly, in other states, judges have imposed their own will by recognizing a ‘right’ to abortion and the government funding of abortion in their state constitutions. We want to ensure that doesn’t happen in the state of Louisiana. By passing the Love Life Amendment, we will ensure that no judge can ever recognize a right to abortion or the state funding of abortion in Louisiana. We will ensure that unborn babies all across the state are protected on the day that Roe vs. Wade is overturned.
The amendment’s website explains that the decision about whether there is a right to abortion in the state of Louisiana should reside in the state’s legislators (and the voters who elect them), rather than in the state’s courts. The website says that to date, 13 other states have “found” a right to abortion in their constitutions, which has led to judges striking down pro-life laws and to the taxpayer funding of abortion.
It is important to note that the amendment does not make abortion illegal if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned. Should that happen, the legality of abortion would be determined by state legislators. What the amendment does is provide a basis for legislators to make abortion illegal if they had that opportunity and also gives extra protection to the pro-life laws Louisiana currently has in place.
Some have said that the Love Life Amendment is merely a symbolic move and does not really accomplish anything. However, on its Instagram account, Love Life Vote Yes responded to someone who leveled this challenge, saying that the amendment is a “defense mechanism” that is “very much needed while American court systems are consistently ‘legislating from the judicial bench,’ usurping the legislative process, and forcing abortion-on-demand.”
“In 13 other states, most recently Kansas,” wrote the account’s moderator, “judges have imposed a right to abortion and the taxpayer funding of abortion even though their state did not allow the funding or have the right to abortion in their state constitution…because there is a trend of judges usurping the legislative process and imposing the right to taxpayer funded abortions, we need to be proactive and prevent this from happening.”
Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Director Steve Horn said that the passing of the amendment is an important statement from Louisiana voters. “We’ve been recognized by various groups to be the most pro-life state in the United States. I think this puts an exclamation point on that, and even some hard data,” he said. The only other states right now to have added such language to their constitutions are West Virginia and Alabama.
State Sen. Katrina Jackson has served in the Louisiana state legislature for nine years, the majority of that time in the House of Representatives. Jackson has spoken at the March for Life rally in Washington D.C. and has called abortion “modern-day genocide.”
Jackson was also the author of a 2014 Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges in local hospitals. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down that law in June of this year.
Colorado is another state that sought to limit abortion this election cycle—the state is one of seven that does not impose limits on abortion at any point during pregnancy. Proposition 115 would have banned abortions at 22 weeks with exceptions if the mother’s life were at risk, but the measure failed to pass with 59 percent of constituents voting against it.