Opinion: Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 1


In this Sept. 8, 2020 photo, voting booths are kept socially distant at the Chesterfield, N.H. polling site. A majority of President Donald Trump’s supporters plan to cast their ballot on Election Day, while about half of Joe Biden’s backers plan to vote by mail. That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that finds 54% of voters say they will vote before polls open on Nov. 3. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

Claire Lyons

I urge you to VOTE NO on Amendment 1 on this upcoming election ballot because:

Constitutions are designed to create, not take away rights.

The state will directly infringe on the right to privacy.

Banning abortion is a violation of Universal Human Rights.

There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Abortion restrictions dispoportionately impact Black, brown, indigenous, and low-income communities.

Constitutions are created to edify rights–not erode them. Amendment 1 states that “a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana constitution.” The Hyde Amendment (1977) ensures that no federal funds are used for abortion care, and in Louisiana, no insurance- public or private- covers abortion. So why put this in the amendment verbiage? The language of Amendment 1 is a strategic attempt to confuse Louisiana citizens with disinformation.

A constitutional amendment is more harmful to abortion access than legislation because of it’s longevity–it is exceedingly difficult to amend a state constitution. If this amendment passes, it will obstruct future legislators. We elect state legislators to create and vote on legislation which reflects our values. Over time, the demographic of voters change and new values should be reflected in the legislature. Moving the issue of abortion from the legislative process into a constitutional realm eliminates the ongoing participation of constituents and legislators in decisions about their bodily autonomy.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973) affirms a constitutional right to abortion in the United States and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevents state governments from infringing on the right to privacy. If Amendment 1 passes, it would set a precedent to erode the right to privacy of all Louisiana citizens. There will be no basis for an argument in state courts that abortion restrictions violate rights, and even more severe: if Roe v Wade is overturned, Louisianans will lose any protections of their abortion rights.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on the Right to Life affirms that access to abortion is a human right, and that the right to life begins at birth. Anti-reproductive health and anti-choice groups such as “Louisiana Right to Life” contort this language for their own political gain, ultimately hurting Louisiana citizens. In Louisiana, Black women are 4.1 times more likely than white women to die while pregnant or within 42 days of childbirth, from preventable complications. “Louisiana Right to Life” does not use their time and resources to create birthing outcome equity, showcasing their hypocrisy and racial biases. Their actions reveal that they are not concerned about the lives of mothers. Furthermore, Amendment 1 offers no language about rape, incest, or maternal health, proving again that this amendment is not intended to protect life, but to erradicate bodily autonomy. In this way, Amendment 1 condones violence against all people of reproductive age–especially Black women.

The current state of abortion care access in Louisiana is already in jeopardy. Louisiana currently has 89 TRAP laws (targeted restrictions on abortion providers), the most of any state in the U.S. TRAP laws are arbitrary and medically unnecessary laws which use a loophole in the Roe v Wade opinion to restrict abortion access and shut down clinics. Therefore, for so many of our citizens, the right to an abortion has already been legislated out of reach. TRAP laws aren’t about safety–they are about control. Surgical abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. In fact, abortion is statistically safer than wisdom teeth extraction. Due to these medically unnecessary restrictions placed on abortion clinics, there are only three clinics in the entire state. That means only three clinics are available to the nearly one million people of reproductive age in Louisiana. Nearly one million people would be stripped of their rights if Amendment 1 is passed.

One of the most prevalent reasons someone decides to have an abortion is because they simply cannot afford to become a parent. Louisiana has the third-highest poverty rate in the nation, with Black people almost 2.5 times as likely as whites to live in poverty. This is why abortion restrictions disproportionately devastate our Black, brown, indigenous and low-income communities. Wealthy people will always be able to travel to a different state or even a different country to get an abortion if they need to. Therefore, if passed, this amendment will restrict access only for those who cannot afford to seek abortion care, which are those who need it the most.

Louisiana citizens deserve better. We deserve Reproductive Justice. We deserve the right to determine, if, when and how we create our families in safe and sustainable environments. This is why I urge you to vote no on Amendment 1 in order to protect personal freedom, bodily autonomy, and public safety in Louisiana.