Louisiana Passes Most Stringent Anti-Abortion Restrictions in U.S.

By Ayana Byrd Feb 12, 2020

As states across the country pass increasingly restrictive abortion legislation, Louisiana has enacted the most with 89 restrictions, according to a study released on February 11 by research and policy organization Guttmacher Institute.

The report, “Louisiana Has Passed 89 Abortion Restrictions Since Roe: It’s About Control, Not Health,” examined the number of anti-abortion regulations passed by state legislatures since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme court case that legalized abortion nationwide. While Louisiana topped the list with the most restrictions, Indiana came in second at 63 and Oklahoma at 60. CBS News reports that Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have not passed any anti-abortion laws in that time frame. 

Per the report, the following laws are currently in effect in Louisiana:


  • Banning nearly all Medicaid funding for abortion, which is tantamount to prohibition for many low-income individuals
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  • Banning any coverage of abortion in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans, which stigmatizes abortion care and puts the burden of payment (typically about $500) on patients
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  • Requiring that a minor obtain parental consent for an abortion, which can delay access to services and, in some cases, lead to abuse by non-supportive family members
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  • Requiring in-person counseling at least 24 hours before an abortion, which forces patients to make at least two trips for the procedure
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  • Mandating inclusion of misleading and irrelevant information in abortion counseling materials, a requirement that conflicts with medical ethics and further stigmatizes abortion
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  • Barring the use of telemedicine for the provision of medication abortion, which limits access to abortion services for those who cannot access a clinic, such as those in rural areas
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  • Requiring an ultrasound before an abortion where the provider must show and describe the image, which is designed to shame the patient
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"The history of Louisiana’s abortion restrictions are in fact a history of attempts to ban abortion, it’s not about giving care to patients. What we’re trying to say is that the legislature’s intent has been to regulate abortion out of existence. That’s been the pattern," Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told CBS News in an interview.

Next month, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in the case June Medical Services v. Gee. As Colorlines previously reported:

The case focuses on a Louisiana law, Act 620, that says doctors who perform abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. If the law is allowed to go into effect, reproductive rights activists say the state will have just one doctor who can provide abortions. About one-third of Louisiana’s abortion clinics would also close, reports Slate.

According to the Guttmacher Institute’s report:

Having such a large number of restrictions impacts access to abortion in Louisiana in a variety of ways, from making it harder for patients to get to an abortion provider or pay for an abortion to making it harder for providers to keep their facility doors open. Even this one abortion restriction—an admitting privileges requirement—has the ability to shutter all but one abortion clinic in the state.

While this—and any potential future restrictions—affect all people of reproductive age in the state, the laws are particularly punitive to Black women. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, in 2018, more Black women in the state terminated pregnancies than any other demographic.

Read the entire Guttmacher Institute report here.