Legislature focuses on safety of women

Published: May 25, 2021

By: Emily Wood | LSU Manship School News Service

Aimee Freeman
Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, spoke about her bill that would remove the notarization requirement on a temporary restraining order. The health and safety of women has emerged as a significant theme in the 2021 legislative session, and five bills, two House resolutions and one Senate resolution dealing with these issues advanced on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Photo by Louisiana House

The health and safety of women has emerged as a significant theme in this year’s legislative session, and five bills, two House resolutions and one Senate resolution dealing with these issues advanced on Tuesday.

Two instruments focus on domestic abuse. House Bill 159, sponsored by Rep. Malinda White, D-Bogalusa, would provide a clear definition for domestic abuse, and House Bill 55, sponsored Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, would remove the notarization requirement on a temporary restraining order.

The recent mishandling of sexual assault allegations against multiple student athletes at Louisiana State University has prompted legislators to address women’s health and safety issues.

Multiple female legislators critiqued LSU’s handling of the allegations in a joint committee hearing in March, and they vowed to make dramatic changes.

Helena Moreno, a New Orleans city councilwoman and a former state representative, and survivors of domestic violence spoke in support of White’s bill in the Senate Judiciary A Committee.

Senate Bill 133, sponsored by Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, advanced through the House Committee on Health and Welfare. The bill would require the Louisiana Department of Health to serve as a resource for addressing health care disparities for women and vulnerable populations in Louisiana.

“Black women are more likely to die while giving birth in the state of Louisiana than white women are, and we want to continue to make sure we close that gap,” said Kimberly Hood, assistant secretary for the Louisiana Office of Public Health.

Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, questioned why addressing health care disparities among a population that makes up over 50% of Louisiana’s broader population is not a part of the health department’s integral mission.

Read more at The Advocate

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