Criminalized Care: How Louisiana’s Abortion Bans Endanger Patients and Clinicians

March 19, 2024

To gauge the on-the-ground human rights impacts of escalating attacks on reproductive rights and bodily autonomy in Louisiana, Lift Louisiana, Physicians for Human Rights, Reproductive Health Impact, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, conducted extensive fact-finding in the state. Research teams conducted dozens of in-depth interviews with clinicians and patients and held focus group discussions with community-based organizations involved in reproductive health care access in Louisiana.  

The findings contained in “Criminalized Care: How Louisiana’s Abortion Bans Endanger Patients and Clinicians” are alarming: the research shows how Louisiana’s abortion bans violate federal law meant to protect patient access to emergency care, disregard evidence-based public health guidance, degrade long-standing medical ethical standards, and, worst of all, deny basic human rights to Louisianans seeking reproductive health care in their state. The bans’ narrow and ill-defined exceptions create confusion, uncertainty, and fear for both pregnant patients and clinicians, who face significant professional, civil, and criminal penalties for providing the patient-centered and compassionate care they were trained for and could legally offer before Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

This research revealed that Louisiana’s abortion bans erode clinician’s ability to use their best medical judgment to treat patients, cause delays and denials of abortion care, postpone prenatal care, and create dual loyalty for clinicians who must navigate their duty to patients and fear of criminalization. The report’s findings also underscore how the bans disproportionately harm historically marginalized communities and groups in the state. Based on these findings, the report outlines specific recommendations to state and federal governments, Louisiana hospitals and health care professionals, medical associations, and international human rights mechanisms on how to address these harms. 

Download “Criminalized Care” Full Report March 2024

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