Abortion rights tighten with passage of Amendment 1 in Louisiana

Jessie Lehman, Staff Reporter

For Louisiana residents, Nov. 3 was not just a consequential election in terms of the presidential race. While many felt that Joe Biden’s win was a victory for women’s rights, residents of Louisiana who support abortion rights lost a fight in preventing the passage of Amendment 1, also known as the “No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment.”

The amendment passed with a 62.1% majority of 1,274,167 votes.

Amendment 1 was written on the ballot as follows: “Do you support an amendment declaring that, to protect human life, a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution?”

Clare Daniel, the administrative assistant professor of women’s leadership through Tulane’s Newcomb Institute, said that Amendment 1 will only have serious implications if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Even so, Daniel said that while there are three abortion clinics in Louisiana, there are other barriers to abortion access in the state. 

“As long as the right to abortion is guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, abortion is legal in Louisiana — albeit within the constraints of the various restrictions that have been passed in this state over the last few decades, which likely make abortion inaccessible to our most marginalized families,” Daniel said.  

Tulane junior Sara Heimlich felt that the wording of the amendment showed agenda and bias from legislators and was difficult to understand. 

Heimlich expressed feeling both shocked and saddened by the use of the phrase “to protect human life” in particular. 

“It’s so biased and so clearly written in a way that is supposed to confuse people and supposed to make people second guess themselves. Which pro-life supporters already do, just in its name being ‘pro-life,’”  Heimlich said. 

Heimlich said that Tulane students can get caught in the “Tulane bubble” and forget their obligation to the city of New Orleans. 

“We impact New Orleans, and we live here, and we take part in all parts of life here, and therefore we definitely have an obligation to not only take the good out of this community but to stand with them as well,” she said. 

“[Amendment 1] is just another way for legislators to control people’s bodies, particularly BIPOC people, but especially Black people in Louisiana,” sophomore Evan Hendrickson said. 

Some Tulane students, including Hendrickson, joined together in the months leading up to the election in the form of a student-led initiative called “Vote No Tulane.” This group’s main presence is on their Instagram page, @votenotulane, which has over 300 followers. This page is a subset of a larger movement @voteno1la which has over 2,000 followers on Instagram. 

Hendrickson was a digital campus organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation. Through this role, he helped run the social media pages and organize events, such as tabling on McAlister Drive with partner organizations like Planned Parenthood, all to support the “Vote No Tulane” initiative. 

Hendrickson made the point that while Tulane cannot reverse Amendment 1, the university has a responsibility to support conversation and dialogue surrounding issues like abortion and other issues that disproportionately impact the citizens of New Orleans. 

According to Daniel, abortion access is already more difficult for marginalized populations such as people of color and those in difficult financial positions. 

“People who already have children and are struggling to make ends meet will be immensely burdened by the need to travel out of state and some of them will be forced to carry the pregnancy to term,” Daniel said.  

Daniel noted that Louisiana’s deep-rooted history of segregation and discrimination will inform the impact of this amendment. 

“As we know, poverty in Louisiana is heavily racialized, so we can expect an abortion ban to disproportionately impact Black Louisianans.”

The Newcomb Institute will hold its annual Conceiving Equity event on Jan. 21, where Diana Green Foster, author of “The Turnaway Study” will present on how being denied an abortion affects women and their families. 

 The Hullabaloo reached out to both of the Instagram pages for Tulane Right To Life and the Vote Yes on Amendment 1 page created by Tulane students, but did not receive a response on the matter of Amendment 1.