The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) is shocked and saddened to see that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has pushed through an incredibly harmful law in Louisiana. With its implementation, two of the four remaining abortion clinics will be forced to immediately close their doors, leaving just two clinics for an already underserved state. These dangerous policies cannot stand.
The implementation of this Texas-style law, which forces clinics to close their doors if they cannot meet the unnecessary, expensive, and time-constraining requirements of a mini-hospital and admitting privileges, does nothing to protect women’s health, no matter how many times anti-abortion legislators repeat this mistruth. We know that, in fact, it puts affordable and accessible abortion out of reach of many of those already struggling to access health care: people with low incomes, people of color, and those in rural and underserved communities.
“These are the real life experiences of women not conveyed or considered by the 5th Circuit today,” says Amy Irvin of the New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF), “We know firsthand the panic women experience, having to make two appointments to the clinic and gathering the required money, possibly having to dip into meager savings. For most women, exercising their right to abortion care means making arrangements for childcare, taking time off from school or work, and putting off paying bills or buying fewer groceries to afford the additional expenses, like travel.”
Yamani Hernandez, NNAF Executive Director weighs in on the national implications of laws like these, “In Texas, we have already seen people choose between their abortion and putting food on the table, keeping their lights on, and paying the rent. They are being forced to miss wages, or even lose jobs, to travel and take multiple days to get an abortion, if they can afford one at all. Abortion funds have been on the front line ringing the alarm that these laws harm those who call us, and that if they’re allowed to stand in one state, they will spread rapidly across the South and Midwest. We are not happy to say we were right.”
To make matters worse, people were already traveling to Louisiana from Texas as Texas clinics shut down. For many, the closest clinic will now be in Mississippi, a state already struggling to keep open their only clinic in the face of anti-abortion pressure. While these laws may be passed in individual state legislatures, they are part of a broader strategy amongst anti-abortion lawmakers across the nation to put abortion out of reach. The resulting sparse patchwork of service is affecting millions of people across thousands of miles. At a time when their hotlines are ringing with people in more need and with less options than ever before, your local abortion funds need your support.
Laws like these are why it is critical for the Supreme Court take into account the stories of those from abortion funds when they hear about the impact of the Texas clinic shutdown law, in the case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt on March 2nd, 2016. As Amy Irvin of NOAF states, “In hearing a similar case out of Texas, the Supreme Court has an opportunity next week to hear from women across the country who chose to terminate a pregnancy in the amicus briefs offered. We in Louisiana hope they’re heard.”
This is why we took the critical step of submitting an amicus brief to bring such voices to the halls of judicial power. We cannot simply watch as the United States continues to slide backwards, with millions of people losing access to abortion. This case is the most important abortion rights case of this century. The case will determine if states have the right to withhold life-saving and life-affirming health services like abortion from their constituents. As Yamani Hernandez of NNAF points out, “At stake in these states are the health and safety of the people and families who need to have an abortion to survive and thrive.”
The National Network of Abortion Funds and member organizations stand with people seeking abortions in Louisiana today and every day; with Whole Woman’s Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights as they fight for all of us, and with the millions of people who are struggling and deserve the right to get an affordable and accessible abortion.
The National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF) works to transform abortion access, public perception, and political power of people who have abortions. NNAF advocates and provides technical assistance for abortion funds who provide direct funding, transportation, childcare, housing, and emotional support for people seeking abortion.
The New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF) is an organization rooted in social justice, with the purpose of challenging socioeconomic inequalities by providing financial help to women who cannot afford the full cost of an abortion.