Corresponding With An Anti-Choice Representative, Part 1: Katrina Jackson

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

So Louisiana is considering draconian anti-choice legislation similar to that which is massively damaging women’s access to reproductive care in Texas currently. Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast set up an email the representatives site and I decided to participate in it. The results so far follow.


The original email was mostly constructed by Planned Parenthood and took a much kinder and more measured tone than my feelings on the topic. I did customize the message by inserting two paragraphs. My addition is bolded:

Dear Representative Jackson,

Thank you for your interest in improving the health of women in Louisiana.

Please be aware that HB 338 will not protect women. Having admitting privileges is not a designation of the quality of a provider and does not enhance patient health and safety at health centers that provide abortion. By passing this bill, you could force 3 out of 5 providers in Louisiana to close their doors, leaving women in all of South Louisiana without access to safe and legal abortion services.

Regardless of how one personally feels about abortion, it is important that it remains a safe and legal medical procedure for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it. This bill does not protect women’s health. Just the opposite, this bill will hurt women by restricting a constitutionally protected procedure.

I urge you to listen to Louisianans: A strong majority of people in Louisiana agree that decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy or raise a child must be left to the woman, her family and her faith with the counsel of her doctor. I urge you to trust women and oppose these dangerous restrictions.

Already, since a similar bill was pushed through in a special session in Texas results have been horrible. Clinics around their state have been forced to close and many women have, out of desperation and lack of options, attempted to induce their own terminations and need emergency medical care as a result. Having seen the results in Texas, I find your facade that this is about protecting women to be disingenuous and frankly insulting to the public’s intelligence.

Attempts to regulate women’s choices don’t end terminations, they just result in real danger. This bill which you claim will protect women will likely cause dangerous situations as have already been seen in Texas and possibly even the death of some women. Before roe v wade, women died because of attempts to perform their own terminations or have them performed by non medical professionals. I am astounded and ashamed that a woman would be the one to sponsor a bill that will push us back to a time like that.

Too many women, men and families in Louisiana are going without health care and it’s taking a toll on our state. Planned Parenthood’s primary concern is for the health and safety of women in Louisiana. Expanding access to basic, preventive care including well woman exams, birth control and cancer screenings will help women avoid unintended pregnancy and keep them healthy.

Please don’t ignore this health care crisis and pass bills that limit a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion. This would only make a bad situation worse for low-income, uninsured women. I’m counting on you trust Louisiana women and put their health first.

Thank you,

Ms. Courtney Horne

I did not expect a reply but I got a stock response a few days later:

Dear Ms. Horne,

Thank you for your email.  I am and have been on the front line fighting for access to healthcare.  However, I do not believe that HB 388 is a matter of access to healthcare.  Every physician in this state performing outpatient procedures is required to have admitting privileges and there should be no exceptions for those physicians performing abortions.  Contrary to popular belief, Louisiana has a physician who performs abortions that has admission privileges at a local hospital.  Also, admitting privileges aid in protecting women who have complications, it cuts down the response time for them to receive proper care.

I suspect that her assertion about every physician performing outpatient procedures having to have admitting privileges is an overstatement. There is no way that Louisiana has a regulation or law that specifies a special exception for abortion. I suspect the regulation she is referring to either a) doesn’t exist at all, b) lists specific procedures that are required to have it, or c) defines outpatient procedures in a way that would not include abortion or similar risk level procedures.  She also says Louisiana has “a physician” who performs abortions who has admission privileges. “A”- by her own statement there would be one doctor to provide care to all women seeking abortions in the state. I replied in a much more … irritated.. tone than the original Planned Parenthood generated message.

A chemically induced abortion- which the vast majority of procedures performed in the state are- hardly seems like it can be rationally called an “outpatient procedure” and is less likely to have complications than most medical procedures. In fact, many hospitals only give admitting privileges to doctors who admit over a certain number of patients per year and because of low complication risks the doctors performing chemically induced abortions are unlikely to have that many admissions per year. Essentially, the safety of the procedure could bar the doctors from receiving the requirement your law demands.
 I also doubt that other admitting privileges requirements for doctors not performing abortions could possibly include a measure that specifies the distance from the hospital as there are numerous parts of the state that have doctors offices which are far more than 30 miles from the nearest hospital. If you could cite the exact regulation and explain to me how if doctors were already required to have admitting privileges for outpatient procedures that you need an extra law for abortion, I would appreciate that. It seems like if doctors preforming outpatient procedures had that requirement it would already be covered and if it is not it is either because that requirement only applies to some procedures specified in the law and you have overstated its broadness or there is an exception for abortions. I somehow doubt that the current law or regulation says “except for abortion.”
To say this bill is about safety also goes against the prevailing knowledge of anyone other than an anti-choice advocate. In fact, I could find no reputable sources, and certainly no sources from a reputable medical association, that support your claim. All the support for these bills come from groups that have the stated purpose of overturning roe v wade and making abortion illegal in the country. I am not alone in finding your claims to be false. Numerous courts have ruled against these laws and hopefully a court will be able to see through this one as well.
To be frank, this is hogwash and it may have fooled people if politicians in other states hadn’t passed the same types of bills while saying they wanted to end abortion in their states. Do you claim to be pro-choice? Because if you do you have been strongly mislead about the actual effect of these sorts of bills. This bill will do exactly what it has done in Texas- close down clinics and cause women to make dangerous choices because they have no other options.
I am sure that either you will not reply or you will send another stock message based on the rhetoric of the anti-choice groups that have pushed these bills around the country. I just want you to know that I would be far less upset about this bill if it was being sponsored by a republican. Or a man. And if I lived in your district I would primary challenge you myself if no one else was ready to do it.
Courtney Horne
P.S. I see that you also want to eliminate the exception for private residences with no minors present to the current drug free zone sentencing. That exception is one of the few things Louisiana has done right in our legal code. Minorities and the poor are considerably more likely to live in drug free zones and having enhanced sentencing apply in their homes has a disproportionately negative effect on the poor population and minority communities. We already have the highest rate of prisoners per capita in the world and this bill would only serve to make that worse. It is another bill that I am disappointed to see coming from a democrat and I am beginning to think you have very little about you that makes it rational for the democratic party to support you.
I doubt she will reply but if I get another email I will post an update.
As a note the bill I am referring to in my post script is House Bill 1024 (HB1024) . Currently there are enhanced penalties for violations within 2000 feet of a drug free zone. The law also currently has an exemption from this increased sentencing for violations that occur entirely in a private residence with no minors present. Her bill would repeal the exception. As a result, if you were arrested for a drug violation in your home, where no minors are, but had the misfortune to live in one of those 2000 feet zones, you would be subject to increased sentencing. Drug free zones have a racial disparity and the current exception mitigates that some. If Katrina Jackson’s bill passes, the racial disparity effect of drug free zones in the state would likely increase.
For a little quick comparison, Senate Bill 187 (SB187)  has the same effect. It is authored by Republican Bob Kostelka . One of his other bills is an effort to allow off duty police to carry their guns in bars instead of only police are acting in an official capacity. There is actually a local news story I immediately recall about an off duty cop having his gun go off in a bar.