Nancy Davis, a mother of one, is 13 weeks pregnant. Several weeks ago, an initial ultrasound revelead to Ms Davis that the fetus would have no chance of surviving — but because Louisiana’s abortion ban does not include an exception for acrania, the condition the fetus is suffering from, she cannot get a legal abortion in the state.
If Ms Davis does want to get an abortion, she will have to travel out of state to Florida. But time is running out for her to make a decision: Florida has banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, giving Ms Davis a small window to schedule an appointment and arrange her travel should she decide to get the procedure.
Louisiana is among the Republican-led states that passed extremely restrictive abortion bans to take effect in a post-Roe v Wade landscape. The state has banned all abortions except for cases in which the mother’s life is in jeopardy or in some cases in which the fetus is nonviable.
A group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to stop the ban from taking effect, but the Louisiana Supreme Court last Friday rejected their appeal. That has left Ms Davis with an extremely limited set of options in trying circumstances — and Ms Davis isn’t the only person who has dealt with similar circumstances in recent weeks.
A New Orleans doctor, Valerie Williams, testified in an affidavit that she was prevented from giving a patient an abortion even though they were carrying a nonviable fetus. Ms Williams testified that the patient was “screaming — not from pain, but from the emotional trauma she was experiencing.”
Jezebel reported that the woman eventually delivered after hours, losing a liter of blood in the process.
The denial of abortion care to people experiencing serious issues with their pregnancies has become a recurring feature of the news landscape over the last several months in Louisiana and beyond as doctors in certain states have been forced to change the care they offer patients, including victims of sexual assault.
There are other issues potentially at play in the denial of abortion care as well. Louisiana currently has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the nation, with Black Louisianans who often face disproportionate barriers to access quality healthcare highly affected.
Sen Bill Cassidy, an opponent of abortion rights, appeared to brush off the issue in a May interview with Politico in which he said “About a third of our population is African American; African Americans have a higher incidence of maternal mortality. So, if you correct our population for race, we’re not as much of an outlier as it’d otherwise appear. Now, I say that not to minimize the issue but to focus the issue as to where it would be.”