Louisiana voters approve constitutional amendment banning abortion. Here's what that means.
Editor's note : As of 5 p.m. today the Louisiana Secretary of State state updated numbers to reflect final count with all precincts reporting (3934 of 64 parishes) that 62% of voters supported Amendment 1. An earlier report at 9 a.m. reflected 67%.
On Tuesday, Louisiana voters approved an amendment that clarifies that the right to an abortion and funding for the procedure is not allowed under the state's constitution.
Amendment 1 is largely symbolic at this point, since abortion care is still available in Louisiana and is protected under federal law. However, pro-choice advocates fear that it will make it more difficult for courts to intervene in favor of abortion rights should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its Roe v. Wade decision. The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision made abortion access legal under federal law.
The amendment had the support of an overwhelming majority of voters, nearly 62% according to data from the Secretary of State's office.
Several reproductive rights organizations issued statements Wednesday morning in the wake of the vote, including the New Orleans Abortion Fund. The organization provides funding to support patients who need financial help seeking abortion services.
"While you can still get an abortion in Louisiana today, we are up against a frightening and uncertain future," said Steffani Bangel, executive director of New Orleans Abortion Fund. "The right to abortion access is facing an unprecedented threat on the federal level, and in the case that Roe v. Wade is overturned, the politicians who put this on our ballots and the people who voted yes on this amendment will be responsible for the people they failed to protect."
Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia also previously approved similar language banning abortion care in their state constitutions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization.
In response to the vote, Benjamin Clapper, the executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, a pro-life organization, issued a statement celebrating the decision.
"With the passage of this amendment, our citizens have mandated that state judges can never use our Constitution to enshrine abortion or the taxpayer funding of abortion in Louisiana," he said.
Louisiana is among the most restrictive states in terms of abortion access. There are currently only three clinics in the state providing these services. Since 1973 the state has passed 89 abortion restrictions, although not every law is currently in effect, according to an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute.
Maria Clark is a general assignment reporter with The American South. Story ideas, tips, questions? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @MariaPClark1. Sign up for The American South newsletter.