If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer, making abortion automatically illegal in Louisiana, the biggest effects will be felt by women of color. In Louisiana, women of color make up 42% of the female population, but 72% of those receiving abortions. Data show that women of color in states that already have restrictive abortion laws often have limited access to health care, limited choices for birth control and have been taught ineffective or inadequate sex education. The Associated Press reports from Mississippi:
If abortions are outlawed, those same women — often poor — will likely have the hardest time traveling to distant parts of the country to terminate pregnancies or raising children they might struggle to afford, said (Laurie Bertram) Roberts, who is Black and once volunteered at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. … Mississippi is one of the poorest states, and people in low-wage jobs often don’t receive health insurance. Women can enroll in Medicaid during pregnancy, but that coverage disappears soon after they give birth.
Hours after Politico published a draft of a Supreme Court opinion that overturns Roe v. Wade, a Louisiana House committee approved legislation that would allow women to be charged with murder for terminating a pregnancy.
Segregationist school plan is shelved
The heavily-white Central school district in suburban Baton Rouge was carved out of the majority-Black school district in East Baton Rouge Parish 15 years ago. This year, Sen. Bodi White, the legislator who made that happen, wanted to redraw the district lines again to exclude a new subdivision that is feeding Black students into the high-performing system. But White shelved his Senate Bill 189 on Wednesday amid criticism that his legislation was not about overcrowding, as he suggested, but about denying Black students entry into the Central Community School System. The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports:
Edgar Cage, a leader of Together Louisiana, opposed the bill and said he grew up in the segregated South. “This is an attempt to resegregate,” Cage said. “It wasn’t fun then or right. It is not right or fun now.” Critics said the new lines would also bar children in the Greenwood and Comite Estate subdivisions, whose families have paid taxes for the past 15 years on the assumption their children would attend Central schools. Chad Collins, a U.S. Marine veteran and resident of Comite Estates, said he bought his home in 2007, repaired it after the historic flood of 2016 and works 12-hour shifts to provide for his three children. “All that hard work is going to be taken away from me by this bill,” Collins told the committee.
Helping formerly incarcerated people get back to work
A bill to clarify when people convicted of felonies are eligible for specific occupational licenses advanced out of the Louisiana House on Wednesday. Rep. Thomas Pressly said his House Bill 639 is intended to allow people with felony convictions to find out whether they can actually get a license before going through the effort and expense of obtaining a credential they may not be able to use. Pressly’s legislation enjoyed support from a broad group of organizations, including the Louisiana Budget Project. The Center Square’s Victor Skinner reports:
“This bill provides the opportunity for people who are previously incarcerated to find out whether or not they can get a license for whatever occupation they’re trying to be licensed for prior to getting the education necessary to get that license,” Pressly said on Tuesday. … “Everybody is familiar with our student loan crisis in this country, certainly in our state,” he said. “So we want to make sure we aren’t burdening people and saddling people with a tremendous amount of debt in a lot of cases with no knowledge of whether they would actually be able to get licensed and employed in whatever industry they have.”
Push to ease graduation rules sparks controversy
A push to ease graduation rules in Louisiana is sparking controversy ahead of a special meeting of the state’s top school board on Thursday morning. The unusual meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary education will cover possible revisions to the state’s modest graduation requirements, including the rule that seniors have a minimal understanding of English, algebra I and other subjects. The Advocate’s Will Sentell breaks down the controversy:
“I have asked my fellow BESE members to discuss the issue to see if there is something we can and should be doing for these students who have experienced such a tumultuous high school experience,” [BESE member Holly Boffy] said. Others say problems for the past two years linked to the pandemic, including start-and-stop school schedules and online learning that showed mixed results at best, resulted in students failing to meet graduation requirements. Critics question why the issue has surfaced just days ahead of graduation, and asked how districts have been using the $4 billion in federal aid aimed in part at repairing learning loss triggered by the pandemic. … In another twist, state Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley has not taken a stance on the possibility of issuing graduation waivers.
Number of the Day
41% – Percentage of Louisiana’s Emergency Rental Assistance funds that have been distributed. Non-southern states have distributed 59% of their rental assistance funds (Source: U.S. Department of Treasury)