The People vs. The Criminalization of Pregnancy

With Louisana voters poised to approve a cruel abortion ban, advocates took action to demand that candidates for the New Orleans district attorney protect the freedom and dignity of all pregnant people. Louisiana is one of 38 states with laws that allow district attorneys to charge a person with murder based on the outcome of their pregnancy. This includes miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth. 

Sparse access to prenatal and maternal care means Black women, low income women, and other pregnant people frequently must go to great lengths to receive medical attention. As a result, the state has the second highest infant mortality in the U.S. High infant mortality rates make pregnant Louisianians more likely to be targets of punitive laws. 

Color Of Change partnered with Louisiana for Personal Freedoms to push New Orleans district attorney candidates to commit to a series of demands grounded in reproductive justice. Together we urged candidates to refuse to punish someone based on their pregnancy outcome – regardless of state or national abortion laws. 

Community leaders and activists created a groundswell of support in favor of protecting the freedom of all pregnant people, while also developing a relationship with then-frontrunner Jason Williams. Williams subsequently made a verbal commitment to adhere to the demands. After William’s confirmation as the New Orleans district attorney, we worked with the new DA to share the importance of refusing to prosecute based on pregnancy outcomes nationwide

Now, District Attorney Williams continues to make it clear that he will refuse to prosecute pregnant people for pregnancy outcomes. New Orleans is one step closer to realizing the needs of Black women and all pregnant people.