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« Good news, for a change, about state abortion laws! | Main | Trump's new rule would allow even more discrimination »

Louisiana activists speak out against abortion ban

Louisiana passes copy-cat abortion ban

Last week, John Bel Edwards, the governor of Louisiana, signed the latest legislation banning abortion ban.  Similar to laws passed in five other states, the act would ban abortion when electrical activity is detected in embryonic cells, referred to by its supporters as a “heartbeat bill”.  If it were to go into effect, the law would ban abortions at around six weeks of gestation, typically two weeks after a missed period.  There would be no exceptions for rape or incest. 

In a sign that state policymakers want to be seen as opposing abortion, but realize that the law is unconstitutional, the Louisiana law will only go into effect if a similar Mississippi law is upheld in federal appeals court.  The Mississippi law is temporarily blocked by Federal Judge Carlton Reeves, who wrote that the law “prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.”

Lakeesha Harris, Director of Reproductive Justice and Health of Women With A Vision (our New-Orleans based regional coordinator), told Rewire.News that Democrats in Louisiana often mirror Republicans when it comes to issues like abortion. They will say one thing and vote another way, or they will “take a walk” and be absent.  The bill passed the Louisiana House with an overwhelming 79-23 vote.

Earlier last month, Lakeesha Harris (standing in center) put herself on the line to protest the draconian proposed abortion ban in Louisiana. “I wish I were surprised that when so many people are struggling, state Sen. John Milkovich and other lawmakers choose to waste their time and our tax dollars denigrating the decisions of women who seek abortion.” said Lakeesha in her op-ed piece for The Advocate.

“We haven’t been a part of the national conversation, so today was about claiming our rights but also letting people know that we fight in Louisiana,” said Deon Haywood, Executive Director, WWAV. “Southerners stand up, and we are always fighting. We’re always on the front lines.”

Medicaid expansion supports housing stability

In case you need another reason to support Medicaid expansion (we don’t, but if you’re trying to convince a recalcitrant policymaker, you might), a new study demonstrated that expanding Medicaid helped low-income people avoid being evicted.  How can a Medicaid card help you pay your rent?  By covering health care costs that you could otherwise have to pay out of pocket, leaving you without enough money to pay rent. 

Researchers Heidi Allen, Erica Eliason and Naomi Zwede at Columbia University and Tal Gross at Boston University looked at all evictions in fourteen states from January 2009 through December 2013, which is roughly two years before and after California expanded Medicaid coverage.  They found that in the California counties that expanded Medicaid in 2011-2012, there were 59 fewer evictions per month - a 25% drop in the number of families that experienced eviction.  Medicaid expansion helps women and their families maintain stable housing, which is a crucial underpinning to good health.  Reason number 3,427 to support Medicaid expansion.  But, who’s counting?

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