La. abortion law would trigger if Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade

The abortion debate has intensified after a leaked draft opinion was published.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - People on both sides of the abortion debate are fired up after a draft opinion by U.S. Supreme Court was leaked to a news organization. It suggests the high court is ready to overturn the 50-year landmark Roe versus Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.

Locally, pro-choice and pro-life forces reacted to the documents and the implications for Louisiana.

Jessica Frankel is the with the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.

Jessica Frankel is with the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.

“This is a draft opinion, we’re horrified by what is contained in this draft, but we also know that it is not final and we want folks to know that abortion is still legal,” said Frankel.

Sarah Zagorski with Communications Director with the group, Louisiana Right to life.

“We were very excited, we were even more excited when we read the draft which basically showed and Justice Alito said very clearly that there is no constitutional right to abortion,” said Zagorski.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said the draft opinion documents published by are authentic and he ordered an investigation into what he called an “egregious breach of trust.”

Professor Stephen Griffin is a Tulane University constitutional law expert.

“There have occasional leaks about case outcomes, but I am not aware of any similar circumstance where you have the whole opinion and we’re all looking at it,” said Griffin. This is just a terrible breach for the court, no matter what your opinion is about the court.”

Louisiana would be impacted right away if the draft opinion becomes the court’s official ruling. It has an anti-abortion law that would be triggered, if the Supreme Court gets rid of Roe. v. Wade.

“That’s right, and I think the important point about trigger laws is that they’re like they’re termed, they immediately go into effect and so basically abortions would be banned,” said Griffin.

Zagorski echoed that.

“In Louisiana, we have a trigger law that will ensure that the minute Roe versus Wade is overturned that abortion will be illegal in Louisiana as well as our Louisiana constitutional amendment, our Love Life amendment which passed in 2020, so we are prepared for a post-Roe society here in Louisiana, we have over 40 pregnancy centers in the state of Louisiana,” she said.

Frankel agrees a Supreme Court decision to scrap abortion rights would trigger Louisiana’s anti-abortion law.

“I agree that if Roe v. Wade is overturned the trigger law will go into effect banning abortion in Louisiana and if that happens then our closest clinic will be in Illinois, so it would be pushing abortion care even further out of reach, but I also just want to say and emphasize it’s already been pushed out of reach for so many people, many, many restrictions over the years, especially here in Louisiana,” she said.

Democrats in Congress say they will try to blunt the impact if the draft Supreme Court opinion becomes the court’s final decision. But the Senate would need to get rid of the filibuster to pass an abortion rights law. Currently, the Senate is split 50-50 political party-wise and Democrats need 60 votes to get rid of the procedural filibuster rule.

Griffin was asked if it would be futile for Democrats in the Senate to try to pass abortion rights legislation unless they can change the filibuster.

“I think so, and this goes for both sides. Both Republicans and Democrats have tried in the past two-pass abortion laws, you know, from their perspective whether pro-life or pro-abortion rights, but it’s never gotten out of the Senate because of the filibuster rule,” said Griffin.

And legal observers say if abortion rights are overturned by the high court, it will be a long time before that may be reversed because Supreme Court Justices have lifetime appointments.

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