SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The administrator of the only abortion provider in North Louisiana says forcing women to keep unwanted pregnancies is not the answer in a state with the highest maternal mortality rate.

Kathleen Pittman, is the director of Hope Medical Center for Women, one of only three authorized abortion providers in Louisiana. She has been bracing for the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling to be overturned after nearly 50 years. Now that it’s happened, she expects health outcomes for Louisiana mothers will only get worse.

“If abortion care is no longer available in Louisiana, we will see an increase in poverty, adverse events in maternal care and I greatly fear an increase in maternal deaths. Louisiana already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation. Persons of color are especially affected. Forcing women to continue pregnancies against their will is not the answer.”

Louisiana has historically been among the states in the U.S. with the highest maternal mortality rates, if not the highest, in recent years.

The Hope Medical Center in Shreveport will stay open and continue to offer women’s health services, but clinic volunteers say all abortions scheduled for Friday and Saturday have been canceled.

Louisiana’s trigger law, which has been in place since 2006, outlaws abortions in the state now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe Vs. Wade. Lawmakers also passed a controversial law during the 2022 Legislative session criminalizing doctors for performing abortions should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed that bill into law last week.

Friday’s Supreme Court decision was welcomed by Louisiana’s right-to-life advocates.

“We celebrate the overturn of Roe v. Wade, restoring Louisiana’s right to protect every precious unborn baby from abortion. But we know our work is not done. Through an abundance of public and private resources, Louisiana is ready to support women and children before and after birth,” Benjamin Clapper Executive Director of Louisiana Right To Life said.