No Choice on the Ballot
The latest issue of Conscience, “The Democratic Party and Abortion,” highlights a genuine problem in the Democratic Party that we need to address. As the cofounder and executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund, a nonprofit organization providing financial assistance to patients seeking abortion care, I have been talking about abortion access in Louisiana since 2012. At the time, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal was waging a war on abortion access, privatizing healthcare and fighting against workers’ rights. Governor Jindal was a leader we loved to hate for his regressive policies.
However, Louisiana Democrats frequently joined their Republican colleagues in championing antichoice legislation designed to put abortion access all but out of reach for many women. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards began his term by being the only Democrat to sign a SCOTUS amicus brief in support of Texas’ restrictive abortion law. In June 2016, Edwards signed into law seven new abortion restrictions, which are now being challenged in court at taxpayer expense.
Time and again, Democratic voters are forced to choose between their prochoice values and antichoice Democrats. We deserve better. Abortion restrictions take away women’s autonomy, foster stigma and have the greatest detrimental effect on the most marginalized people. These are not Democratic values.
The path forward for the Democratic Party is to reclaim the moral argument that centers and prioritizes women’s bodily autonomy, agency and self-determination. As Democrats we must continue to work to end abortion bans and the Hyde Amendment. Likewise, we must fight to preserve abortion access for the most common abortion experiences, such as women who are not ready to be parents, and not only tragic cases.
In this moment when women of both parties are coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment, we demand leaders who will speak truth to power. Now is not the time for the Democratic Party to abandon its prochoice platform but to assert the humanity that unites us.
AMY IRVIN, MSSW
Executive Director, New Orleans Abortion Fund
New Orleans, LA