By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

Along with electing a president Louisiana voters will also  go to the polls Nov. 3 to decide on a pro-life amendment to the state constitution that would protect unborn babies in the event the Supreme Court eventually overturns Roe vs. Wade, the court case legalizing abortion in 1973.

If Roe is indeed overturned, the legal question of the right to an abortion will be decided state by state. The Love Life Amendment, according to Danielle Van Haute, pro-life coordinator for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, would put into the Louisiana constitution a guarantee that there “cannot be found a right to abortion.”

The state in 2006 passed a pro-life “trigger” law, meaning if Roe v. Wade is overturned and the question of legality reverts back to the states, the law will be activated and abortion in Louisiana will immediately be illegal.

The Love Life Amendment would also prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion.

“(The amendment) is a way to ensure in our constitution  we can’t find a right to an abortion,” Van Haute said. “It is the final piece in the puzzle to ensure Louisiana is abortion free.”

“We have already seen that in some states they have amended their state constitutions to include the right to abortion, so they are also preparing for when Roe is overturned but they are making sure abortions will remain legal in those states,” she said.

Reportedly up to 13 states, including New York, Kansas and Tennessee have put laws in place to prohibit abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Pro-life amendments similar to the one being proposed in Louisiana have passed in Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas and Rhode Island.

“We are seeing a disturbing trend in other states where the state supreme courts are finding a ‘right to abortion’ in their state constitutions, thus
taking the issue out of the hands of the people and  and placing it into the judiciary,” said Louisiana Right to Life Associate Director Angela Thomas. “State Supreme Courts in 13 other states have found a right to abortion in their constitutions.

“These ‘mini-Roe’ decisions have been issued in obvious states such as California, Vermont and New York, but also recently in 2019 in the mostly pro-life state of Kansas. These can be drastic decisions that enable abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.”

Earlier this summer the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement strongly supporting the Love Life Amendment, saying it “would successfully amend the Louisiana constitution and there continue to strengthen our commitment to end abortion in our state.”

“As Catholics, we are called to ensure that life is indeed valued and that the dignity of all is upheld,” the statement said. “This is the foundational principle of our social teaching and must be intentionally considered in all that we do.
“Without such an amendment, the invalidation of the many anti-abortion laws we have all advocated so strongly for in Louisiana remains a possibility.”

In 2019 the Louisiana Legislature approved legislation sending the amendment to the voters. Originally, it was believed the amendment would be voted on in 2019 but sources at the time said organizers believed there would be a stronger voter turnout in 2020 because of the presidential election.

“Looking back at the steps that had to be taken to get this on the ballot, the legislation allowing this, it was passed with wonderful bi-partisan support,” Van Haute said.

A majority vote is needed for approval and if passed, the following language would be added to the Louisiana Constitution under Article I, Section 20.1:

“To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

Van Haute said she is optimistic about voter approval of the amendment, noting she is sensing an “enthusiasm” among supporters.

She said many churches have put notices in their bulletins regarding the amendments provided by her office and clergy have made announcements from the pulpit. Yard signs and other materials have also been distributed by Louisiana Right to Life.

“People are excited about it,” Van Haute said. “To have something people can unite over is something that is really important right now. What better cause than the fundamental issue of the right to life.”

Added Thomas: “This is a huge moment in history. We have the opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless and use our vote to protect the unborn!”