May 232019

Abortion-rights advocates rally in New Orleans on Wednesday against the bills in the state Legislature. (Danae Columbus)

Danae Columbus, opinion columnist

As the Louisiana Legislature prepares to pass one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the U.S., many pro-choice women are stunned by how the pendulum has swung to the right after more than 20 years of safe, legal abortions. Though abortion-rights advocates around the country initially dismissed the notion of life beginning with a fetal heartbeat, the concept of third trimester abortions eventually became abhorrent to the majority of voters. Proponents of Louisiana’s legislation have set the stage for a fight that liberals and progressives cannot win.

It will take some time before the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Once again, the big losers will be poor women, especially women of color. Women with resources will be able to get an abortion out of state or out of the country. Poor women will either bear more children — even if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest — or take their changes with a risky procedure performed in the shadows. Only three clinics in Louisiana currently perform abortions.

While mothers and physicians will be penalized, the men who get women pregnant will walk away scot-free. Perhaps fathers should face stiffer penalties as well — more than just providing child support for the new baby. It is rare for government to dictate a man’s reproduction habits. Yet government seems to have no problem limiting a woman’s choices. As long as conservatives like President Donald Trump rule the White House and the judiciary, expect the pendulum to keep on swinging to the right.


‘The whole point of running for office is to get things done. That is a legislator’s job,” said House District 98 candidate Carlos Zervigon at his official kick-off Tuesday evening. An enthusiastic crowd of approximately 60 family and friends including former Councilwoman Susan Guidry, architect Billy Sizeler and his wife Jane, activist David Alvarez, Zervigon’s father, Luis Zervigon, and his mother, philanthropist Mary Keller Zervigon, turned out to hear the folksy Zervigon’s views on criminal justice reform, early childhood education, infrastructure and empowering Louisiana’s teachers.

He believes criminal justice reform includes bail reform, juvenile justice reform and the legalization of marijuana. Zerivgon also supports equal pay for women, family leave, protecting Louisiana’s coast and rebuilding the Sewerage & Water Board from the ground up.

“If we can’t solve the problem of Louisiana’s coast, nothing else matters. Citizens shouldn’t have to spend four hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get their license renewed. If elected, I will give the citizens of District 98 everything I’ve got,” Zervigon pledged.

On Wednesday evening, dozens of smartly attired young professional crowded the Freret Street bar Cure to hear House District 98 candidate Kea Sherman – the bar’s co-owner along with husband Neal Bodenheimer. After a rousing introduction from Hyma Moore of Greater New Orleans Inc., Sherman touched on early childhood education as a passion of hers. She also stressed the need to do a better job of attracting a middle class to New Orleans, raise the minimum wage incrementally, create additional workforce development and diversify the economy.

“The Sewerage & Water Board is the No. 1 topic of every door I knock,” Sherman said. She also extolled the importance of supporting small businesses and spoke about how she and Bodenheimer have benefited from historic tax credits. “We plan on opening another business in the neighborhood very soon,” she announced.

Among those who attended were Alex Glaser, Seth Bloom. David Morris, Arkebia Matthews, LaTanja Silvester and Marguerite Oestreicher.

The contest for House District 98 is already a highly competitive race. Four announced candidates are engaging voters on the campaign trail. All wisely invested personal funds to start their campaigns and are out raising money. There is also a “friendly” sign war in play as candidates push to lock up key locations. While each of these candidates is dreaming about making the runoff, no one expect a free ride. More contenders could still emerge before qualifying.


When Councilwoman-at-large Helena Moreno took office 12 months ago, she had a clear vision as to what she wanted to accomplish, which generally included making New Orleans safer, more affordable, more equitable and more resilient. Though much remains to be accomplished, Moreno is pleased with the progress she and other council members have made. Recently named president of the City Council, Moreno will now have an even greater opportunity to accomplish her many goals. Supporters will join Moreno Wednesday evening, May 29, at Commander’s Palace to show their appreciation.


House District 94 candidate Tammy Savoie is inviting friends to meet her at the Greek Festival with their kayaks Friday afternoon to “Paddle the Bayou with Tammy,” a new twist on the traditional campaign meet-up. Team Savioe members also spent last weekend with their kayaks at Bayou Boogaloo. A boat parade on Lake Pontchartrain is surely in Savoie’s future.


Dozens of attorneys and political players are expected to attend a birthday fundraiser tonight that U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is hosting for Appeals Court Judge Regina Woods at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Woods took the 5th Circuit bench in January 2017 after serving on Civil District Court. She is rumored to be a possible contender for the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2020 when current Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson will retire.

Danae Columbus, who has had a 30-year career in politics and public relations, offers her opinions on Thursdays. Her career includes stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board and former clients such as District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, City Councilman Jared Brossett, City Councilwoman-at-large Helena Moreno, Foster Campbell, former Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former City Councilwomen Stacy Head and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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