By Dorinda Bordlee
Reprinted with permission from The Clarion Herald
On the 2020 presidential ballot, Louisiana citizens will have the opportunity to vote on the “Love Life” constitutional amendment, following the overwhelming bipartisan passage of a bill sponsored by two female legislators, Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) and Rep. Beth Mizell (R-Franklinton).
What exactly is the “Love Life” Amendment? It’s a one-sentence amendment to ensure that the Louisiana Constitution is protected from state judges taking the abortion issue away from the people.
As a companion to the 2006 pro-life trigger law, the “Love Life” amendment is “the final piece of the puzzle to ensure that Louisiana protects unborn babies from abortion the minute Roe v. Wade is reversed” (LoveLifeVoteYes.com).
How does that work? First, it’s important to realize that many scholars on both sides of the debate view the 1973 Roe decision as illegitimate because the U.S. Supreme Court “discovered” a right to abortion with no text in the U.S. Constitution to support it. This so-called “right” has wildly distorted our nation’s federalist framework by completely robbing the right of the people, through their state representatives, to protect the unique and unrepeatable lives of human beings in the womb.
It further robs the people of their right to pass measures that protect vulnerable classes of women and girls from the coercion and trauma of abortion, the kind of trauma that leads to a tripled risk of attempted suicide and a five-fold increase in reported drug abuse.
But the people are rising up in anticipation of the reversal of Roe given the recent and, perhaps, future appointments of new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. States such as New York are passing measures to codify abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy, while states such as Alabama are passing measures to end the violence of abortion.
And that’s exactly what a reversal of Roe means; it means that the people in the various states will decide rather than having five unelected justices act as our nation’s abortion control board.
So, how does the Louisiana “Love Life” Amendment fit in? Let’s begin with the language that you will see in the voting booth. It reads: “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?”
You see, Louisiana is ahead of the game. In 2006, the Legislature passed what I referred to then as the “Post-Roe Activation Clause.” It’s a “trigger law” stating that as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court abortion cases are reversed, a Louisiana law prohibiting abortion would immediately go into effect.
So, what would you do if you were an abortion industry lawyer and you anticipated that Roe’s days were numbered? Well, you’d go to Louisiana state court and try to get the Louisiana Supreme Court to “discover” a right to abortion in our state Constitution, thereby gutting the Louisiana abortion ban. Such a ruling would also be used to strike down common-sense, pro-life protections, such as our public funding ban or ultrasound requirements.
And that’s exactly what abortion industry lawyers have already successfully done in 13 states – with only one, Tennessee, having passed an amendment to reverse that court decision. Mini-Roe state court decisions have been issued in obvious states such as California, Vermont and New York, but also in largely pro-life states such as Mississippi and even Kansas, whose supreme court found a “natural right” to abortion in their state constitution just last month.
The “Love Life” Amendment would place language in the Louisiana constitution that would prevent that from ever happening here. Similar pro-life constitutional amendments were passed by voters in Alabama and West Virginia last year, bringing the current total to five states (along with Arkansas, Rhode Island and Tennessee) that have clarified that their state constitutions don’t protect abortion.
If the amendment passes in 2020, Louisiana would become the sixth state whose state constitution is protected from state judges taking the abortion issue away from the people. The “Love Life” Amendment gives Louisiana citizens their own choice. Will we continue to allow judges to govern us or will we let the people decide?
Dorinda C. Bordlee is legal counsel for Bioethics Defense Fund, BDFund.org.