Women deserve affordable and accessible health care services, and we must improve outcomes for maternal and infant mortality.
Women deserve access to quality, affordable reproductive healthcare services, including family planning help, prenatal care, cervical and breast cancer screenings, testing for and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and annual checkups.
It is unfortunate that the issue of abortion is so divisive, as we are leaving a lot of common ground unexplored. Abortion rates fell to an all-time low in 2014 due to improved access to family planning services. We must continue in this direction. Alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, should be made more accessible. We must also support policies which make bringing children into the world less of an economic and personal crisis for families and single mothers, such as family leave, affordable child care, equal pay and a living wage. Women should not have to choose between having a child and survival. Violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse, rape and incest, must end.
No woman aspires to have an abortion. This can be one of the most difficult and painful decisions ever faced. I support women who are pro-life. I support women who are pro-choice. I support women who change their minds. These are matters of conscience and moral choice taking into account the specific personal and medical factors of the woman involved. Governments should not force women to bear children any more than they should force women to have abortions. Our Constitution protects such intensely private decisions as being at the heart of our concept of personal dignity, autonomy, and liberty. I support these long-established protections of individual rights under the law.
Louisiana ranks 45th in the country in maternal mortality rate (2016) and the rate increased by 28% in 2017. Louisiana is ranked 3rd worst in health outcomes for women and children, in part because we don’t have as many mothers getting prenatal care. Louisiana’s rate of premature births and infant mortality is one of the worst in the nation. We owe those mothers and babies better care and safety.
We must improve access to affordable and quality healthcare, and support policies which benefit women, children and families.