The Abortion Debate: Can We Find Common Ground?

Alexandra Seghers of Louisiana Right to Life debates political consultant Audrey Hayworth and Harmony Hobbs on abortion rights.
Image design by Vinicius Tavares for DWF. All rights reserved.

Experts Debate the Status and Future of Abortion Access in Louisiana

By Audrey Hayworth & Harmony Hobbs, Freelance Writers and Political Consultants, and Alexandra Seghers, Director of Education, Louisiana Right to Life

Alexandra Seghers of Louisiana Right to Life debates political consultant Audrey Hayworth and Harmony Hobbs on abortion rights.

Abortion Restriction in Louisiana: A Microcosm of a Larger Problem

By Audrey Hayworth & Harmony Hobbs – Freelance Writers and Political Consultants

Louisiana consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous states for women to live. This legacy has continued for years, in almost every category studied, in a blistering reflection of Louisiana and its value of women. Recent numbers show the state of Louisiana has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, with significantly higher numbers of death for Black women. In the Violence Policy Center’s latest study, “When Men Kill Women”, Louisiana ranks second on the list. According to the FBI, the number of rapes reported per 100,000 residents is 46, while the national average is 38.4. An estimated two out of three sexual assaults go unreported to police

In the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the additional risks to the health and lives of women and children within our already-tenuous state healthcare infrastructure became clear. Louisiana Senate Bill 342 (authored by Rep. Katrina Jackson) is a trigger law banning all abortion, passed in anticipation of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In its first year, we’ve already seen lives put perilously at risk due to its passage. One example is Nancy Davis, a resident of Baton Rouge. She was forced to travel out of state to receive an abortion after initially being denied one when the fetus she was carrying was diagnosed with a fatal condition. The state legislature has declined to pass any exceptions in recent sessions, which means that children as young as eight would be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if they are victimized. This is nothing short of cruel.

Abortion Restrictions Affect More Than Just Healthcare

As it stands, our state is already grappling with a lack of access to healthcare: 73% of Louisiana lacks access to a primary care physician, which includes obstetrics and gynecology. Physicians should not be expected to go against their oath and put their license at risk because of political theater. Not only will talented physicians who we have trusted to take care of us leave, but we will struggle to recruit younger physicians.

The abortion ban is already affecting the hospitality industry in Louisiana. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists canceled its annual conference that was scheduled to be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans in April 2023. When notifying their 62,000 members, they stated, “ACOG will be relocating next year’s Annual Clinical & Scientific Meeting…to a state whose legislative climate is consistent with our values…Holding the nation’s largest gathering of obstetrician-gynecologists in a location where the provision of evidence-based care is banned or subject to criminal or other penalties is directly at odds with our mission.” The most recent attendance numbers of their annual conference was 4,000 members. That’s 4,000 attendees seeking hotel rooms, buying meals, and contributing to the local economy. 

Louisiana may struggle to recruit new companies or retain its own residents due to these new provisions. U.S. News and World Report released their Best States ranking based on 71 categories, including healthcare and economy. Louisiana ranked last overall. Other studies estimate over $1.8 billion dollars in economic loss for Louisiana due to abortion restrictions. Economic implications are often overlooked when discussing abortion and access to healthcare, yet they should be part of the discussion. Huge economic losses in the wake of restricted abortion access are already happening in other states. Within 24 hours of a state abortion ban in Indiana, its home state, Eli Lily, which employs 10,000 people, issued a statement which in part read, “Given this new law, we will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state.” 

It’s clear that Louisiana is ensuring the cycle of poverty for its residents—limited services, combined with a lack of abortion access and healthcare, predicts a dire economic future. It all but guarantees our beloved state will continue to rank last in future studies, using women and children as its sacrificial lamb. 

Alexandra Seghers of Louisiana Right to Life debates political consultant Audrey Hayworth and Harmony Hobbs on abortion rights.

The Legacy of Abortion is Sorrow

By Alexandra Seghers – Director of Education, Louisiana Right to Life

There are many things about which the opening authors and I completely agree. The statistics cited show that Louisiana gravely needs to improve healthcare for women and children. Mothers deserve the best of maternal care, both before and after birth, and Louisiana’s maternity care is a disgrace. Louisiana desperately needs to improve in healthcare, economics, and education. The history on neglect of justice after rape is astounding. Our society must support rape survivors by ensuring their safety, delivering true justice, showing them the utmost compassion, and providing a path for healing from the trauma. On all of these points, Ms. Hayworth, Ms. Harmony, and I agree.

Here is where we disagree: I hold that abortion is not the answer to these problems. The position which poses abortion as the answer is also a position that uses “women and children as its sacrificial lamb.”

First, Do No Harm

96% of biologists agree that human life begins at fertilization, regardless of religious beliefs or politics. According to the American College of Pediatricians, “At fertilization, the human being emerges as a whole, genetically distinct, individuated zygotic living human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, needing only the proper environment in order to grow and develop.” 

Philosophically, many argue that although the unborn baby is a human being, a ‘person with rights’ begins after birth. This viewpoint separates one category of human beings as ‘less than’ another category of human beings ‘with rights’. But can basic rights really be considered ‘human rights’ if we give them to only some humans and not others? Each time in history that we have separated human beings into different categories, it has often resulted in horrific consequences of eugenics, racism, sexism, all leading to cruel injustice. I believe in equal rights, particularly the most basic right to life, no matter what a person looks like, where they are from, their age, or what their abilities are. This informs my position against abortion.

Saying that ACOG does not want to hold its conference in Louisiana because our state places criminal penalties on physicians who perform elective abortions is analogous to saying they do not want to hold their conference in our state because Louisiana places criminal penalties on physicians who kill two-year-olds, women, the elderly, or any other particular group of humanity. It is analogous because the fetus, the infant, the two-year-old, women, and the elderly are all individual human beings who have the right to life and do not deserve to be intentionally harmed and killed. Physicians should not go against their oath and directly kill innocent human beings.

Now, there is a critical difference between elective abortion and performing a medically necessary procedure to save the life of the mother. Elective abortion is the direct and intentional killing of a human being. Situations such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, preeclampsia, PPROM, and others that necessitate surgery to remove a pathological body part or induce labor or emergency c-section, do not directly and intentionally kill a human being even if it is likely that the baby may die. Louisiana law, in fact, protects a physician’s ability to perform health-saving procedures.

Abortion Is Not a Solution

When I look at the history of abortion, I see a profit-driven industry that has preyed upon the vulnerability of marginalized women and their children. There are stories of women who were told that abortion would feel like a period or miscarriage treatment and that their child is just “tissue”. Many experience immense pain, sorrow, and regret over their abortion, feeling lied to about their child and the procedure itself. Thousands of women have not experienced abortion as a “choice” but revealed they felt pressured or coerced into an unwanted abortion by their circumstance, their male partner, and lack of support. I am not saying that regret or relief after abortion are reasons for making it wrong or right, but I am saying that abortion is harmful.

Abortion does not solve society’s ills. Instead, it passes on violence and oppression to the next weakest and most vulnerable human person. We should be bettering our healthcare and economics for both women and children, not subjecting either of them to the brutality of abortion as a hopeless band-aid to Louisiana’s ugly wounds.

Abortion is a Medical Procedure, Not a Political Battlefield

By Audrey Hayworth & Harmony Hobbs – Freelance Writers and Political Consultants

We do not believe abortion is an answer to a problem. We assert that abortion is a necessary medical procedure and the choice to have one belongs between the individual and their physician.

Ms. Seghers cites the platform ‘Quillette’ on the topic of when life begins. All Sides, a media bias database, ranks Quillette as a far right media company. Regardless, even if life begins at fertilization, life cannot survive at fertilization. Ms. Seghers quotes the American College of Pediatricians, a fringe, far right association that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group intent to deceive by its name.

The respected, non-emotional, and science-driven organization that the majority of pediatricians are a member of is the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP). AAP states, “AAP policy affirms that it is an adolescent’s right to decide the outcome of their pregnancy.” Approximately half of rape-related pregnancies are terminated. Survivors of sexual assault had no control over what happened to them, but they deserve to control the outcome of the circumstances, should pregnancy occur. Abortion is a necessary medical procedure and the choice to have one belongs between a woman and her physician, not in the hands of the government.

Abortions Deserve Regulation

By Alexandra Seghers – Director of Education, Louisiana Right to Life

I concede that the American College of Pediatricians may be very biased. Yet, their original source is one of many university embryology and developmental biology textbooks illustrating that the moment of fertilization marks the beginning of a living human being. Here is the PubMed source: “Biologists from 1,058 academic institutions around the world assessed survey items on when a human’s life begins and overall, 96% affirmed the fertilization view.”

It is true that an embryo cannot survive on its own. Please consider that an abandoned newborn also cannot survive on their own. Survivability is inconsistent reasoning for establishing an equal human right. Some, like philosopher Peter Singer, both acknowledge that biologically life begins at fertilization and philosophically support abortion. Unfortunately, Singer consistently reaches conclusions that killing a newborn baby and people with certain disabilities can be acceptable. Advocating for killing some humans undermines human rights for all.

If abortion does not kill a human being, no justification would be necessary, and I could agree that it would be a private medical procedure. However, if we agree that life begins at the moment of fertilization, then we must accept that abortion does kill a human being and it deserves governmental regulation just as other human rights abuses do. 

If you enjoyed this article, please make sure to like, comment, and share below. You can also read more from our All Politics is Local series here.

Audrey Hayworth and Harmony Hobbs
Freelance Writers and Political Consultants

Audrey Hayworth and Harmony Hobbs are freelance writers, bloggers, and political consultants, for which they have received three Pollie awards from the American Association of Political Consultants. They have testified before the Louisiana legislature over the proposed abortion ban and are volunteers for the non-profit Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response.

Alexandra Seghers
Director of Education, Louisiana Right to Life

Alex Seghers is the Director of Education of Louisiana Right to Life. In this capacity, she focuses on educational publications, grassroots organizing, chapter development, and social media. She led grassroots efforts in the Love Life Constitutional Amendment campaign and orchestrated the Post-Roe Louisiana Summit, occurring after the Dobbs v. Jackson opinion leak, as well as a second Summit near the anniversary of the overturn of Roe v. Wade. She has spread this message through nearly 300 speaking engagements to about 16,500 people across Louisiana (and beyond). Alex graduated from the University of Dallas with a bachelor's degree in politics.

1 comment

Blair Christensen August 9, 2023 at 9:54 am

Abortion is ending a human life by choice. There is no “middle ground.” There is no compromise. That is the simple truth.

Any society that cares as little about its future as to allow babies to die on the altars of ideology digs their own grave.


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: