Louisiana board stalls New Orleans flood aid over city officials' position on abortion

Rescue personnel traverse the Eighth Ward of New Orleans, La., on August 30, 2005, after flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina inundated the city.AP Photo/Dave Martin, File
  • A Louisiana board temporarily blocked funding for key power station needed to combat flooding, per The Washington Post.

  • The station would run critical drainage pumps needed to safeguard New Orleans, a city of roughly 384,000 residents.

  • The action was taken at the urging of La. AG Jeff Landry, who says the city is flouting the state's new abortion law.

A Louisiana commission last week temporarily blocked funding of flood control for New Orleans over the city's opposition to the state's near-total abortion ban, according to The Washington Post.

At the request of Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry, the Louisiana State Bond Commission on Thursday voted 7-6 to halt — for the time being — a $39 million line of credit that city leaders sought to utilize for a power station to tackle flooding issues in an area affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm devastated New Orleans, as several major levee breaches led to widespread flooding throughout the city.

The station would run critical drainage pumps needed to safeguard the city of roughly 384,000 residents.

Landry's actions came after the New Orleans City Council passed a resolution in July asking that the city's government not utilize city funding to prosecute any abortion-related crimes.

"The officials in New Orleans took an oath of office to support and enforce the laws of our State, yet they have decided that some laws are not worthy of enforcement," he said in a Facebook statement, where he also blasted "the city's open defiance of the will of the people of Louisiana."

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell criticized the actions taken by Landry, a former congressman and potential 2023 gubernatorial candidate.

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the manufactured crisis of the attorney general, who has once again delayed critical infrastructure funding in the middle of hurricane season," she said in a statement. "I will continue to prioritize necessary improvements to our city's aging infrastructure, while fighting for the reproductive rights of all women."

After Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States — was overturned by the Supreme Court in June, Louisiana put into place one of the most stringent abortion bans in the country.

Jeff Landry
Louisiana state Attorney General Jeff Landry.AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File

Abortion is now banned in the state without exceptions for rape or incest, while the procedure is only allowed to save the life of the mother.

The abortion trigger law was passed in anticipation of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the court, and while it was temporarily blocked in court after the ruling, the law was eventually allowed to stand.

Landry characterized the city council vote as a rejection of state authority.

He serves as a member of the bond commission, and when the proposal for the power plant funding came up last month, a vote was delayed.

On Thursday, Landry said that New Orleans could either adhere to the abortion ban or forgo funding for the plant.

"If they want this project to move forward, rescind the resolution," Landry said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards — a conservative Democrat who is anti-abortion — backed the flood funding.

The governor's allies on the board voted to approve the project.

"The idea that you seek to punish all the people living in a certain area because you are at odds with some of their elected officials, that's not a reasonable approach," Edwards said last month after the initial vote was delayed.

Matthew Block — the executive counsel to Edwards and a panel appointee — said that the city council's vote held little weight as abortion providers have left the state, so there was no need for the state to take such an action.

"There are no abortions being performed in Louisiana, much less in Orleans Parish, right now," Block said. "So this idea that because there were statements made and a resolution passed that, somehow in the future, there might not be enforcement of the law — that's not happening right now."

Republican state Sen. Bret Allain, member of the commission, said it was "problematic" for the state to target the city in such a manner.

"It seems to me that we're maybe shooting at the wrong," he said last week.

However, Landry disagreed with such an assertion at the Thursday committee hearing, according to the Louisiana Illuminator.

"We should not defer the ability to use the tools at our disposal to bring them to heel, quite frankly," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider