Louisiana lawmakers are currently advancing a measure that would require women to receive biased information about the mental health risks of abortion before being allowed to continue with the procedure. Opponents warn that the anti-choice measure is simply designed to dissuade women from exercising their right to choose — particularly since the information will be written by abortion opponents.
Under House Bill 1262, which passed the Louisiana House of Representatives on Monday, abortion providers would be required to distribute a pamphlet that includes information about the “alleged psychological effects of abortion,” and lists names of mental health resources for women who are seeking assistance. Patients would be required to sign a form confirming that they received the pamphlet, and then wait at least 24 hours before returning for abortion care.
Rep. Barry Ivey (R), who sponsored the legislation, argued that it’s necessary in light of the “potential psychiatric issues” that can occur after women choose to have an abortion. During a hearing on HB 1262 earlier this month, other supporters claimed that women frequently experience post traumatic stress disorder after ending a pregnancy.
HB 1262 stipulates that the new abortion-related pamphlet will be created by a 14-member task force that includes state lawmakers, psychologists, and people who counsel women against having an abortion. According to the Times-Picayune, “no abortion providers or mental health professionals that recommend abortions would be allowed on the panel.”
If HB 1262 is approved, Louisiana will become the 25th state to require women to receive information about abortion risks before being allowed to end a pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, eight of those states only provide negative information about abortion’s potential mental health risks. Some attempt to link it to suicide.
But in reality, the research in the field has found that women who have abortions aren’t at any greater risk of mental health issues. Although many women certainly do have mixed feelings after ending a pregnancy, they overwhelmingly say that it was the right decision for them. Ninety percent of women report that their primary emotion after having an abortion is relief — and when they do experience negative emotions, they’re often related to the societal stigma surrounding abortion, not because they regret their personal choice.
“It’s just one thing after another. It’s just another obstacle,” Sylvia Cochran, an administrator for abortion clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, lamented during a hearing about HB 1262. Cochran pointed out that clinics already provide women with the information they need about the procedure, and don’t need to go through the work of printing an extra pamphlet.
But Louisiana lawmakers have been particularly intent on attacking reproductive health resources lately. The state is also attempting to impose unnecessary restrictions on abortion clinics and prevent Planned Parenthood from providing sexual health instruction in public schools.