Letter: Don’t restrict abortion access

Our state’s lawmakers recently voted to place women in harm’s way. The Louisiana Legislature passed HB388, a bill to cut off a woman’s ability to access safe abortion care. Effective in September, this law requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at area hospitals, a regulation not required for physicians performing other medical procedures, but targeting women’s health. There is only one abortion provider in Louisiana that has these privileges, and although other providers are applying to hospitals, no others have been granted these privileges.

While this requirement may seem reasonable, the reality is that these providers already have plans in place to ensure patient safety in the rare case of an emergency. And I do mean rare: Study after study has shown abortions to be safe. But this law is not about ensuring women’s safety; it is about closing clinics, reducing access to abortion — creating barriers to women’s safety.

The real-world impact of this law will have far-reaching health and economic consequences for Louisiana’s women and families. It also erodes women’s constitutionally protected reproductive and religious freedoms.

As a faith-based organization, the National Council of Jewish Women is compelled to speak out for reproductive justice and the right of every woman to follow her own conscience in making personal decisions concerning her health and family. Every woman deserves this right, no matter where she lives or how much money she has.

Religious liberty includes the right to follow one’s own faith and morality in making personal health decisions and the right to be free from constraints imposed by others. While we respect the right of every individual, including our lawmakers, to hold their own religious beliefs, the Constitution demands that politicians not enshrine one religious view into law.

If our lawmakers truly want to support women’s health and safety, they should support access to the full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion, rather than put up roadblocks to that care.

Congress is now considering the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would invalidate state laws designed to restrict abortion access and make it more difficult to pass such laws in the future. Louisiana residents should call on our federal lawmakers to support this measure to protect every woman’s right to make her own decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or become a parent. It’s time to stop regulations that risk women’s health and economic well-being and that impose a single religious view on all of Louisiana’s women.

It’s time that Congress protects women in our state and every state by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Michelle Erenberg

state policy chairwoman, NCJW

New Orleans