Is abortion legal again in Louisiana after a federal judge ruling?
Abortion is legal once again in Louisiana after a Baton Rouge judge on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order which will block the state from enforcing a trigger ban on the procedure. The right of a women to access an abortion though is still in limbo, Judge Donald Johnson set a hearing for Monday 18 July to consider arguments on making the hold more permanent.
Louisiana is one of thirteen states that had laws on the books to ban abortions almost immediately upon the overturning of Roe, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that made the procedure legal under the US Constitution. Currently, only nine states have been able to implement their ‘trigger-law’ bans while others like Louisiana have met legal obstacles.
Abortion provider will restart services
The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with Louisiana abortion providers, filed to block Louisiana from implementing its trigger law just days after the Roe v Wade was overturned. They argued that the state’s law was vague not providing specifics about what is legal or not under the law. A New Orleans state district judge granted a restraining order to block the state from imposing a ban on abortions.
Jeff Landry, the state’s attorney general, asked the state Supreme Court to step in. On Friday, however, a ruling by another New Orleans judge found that New Orleans court did not have the authority to block the ban, effectively making abortion illegal in the state. Abortion providers were forced to stop all procedures but continued to provide other reproductive services and counsel.
With the decision on Tuesday they will be allowed to restart abortion procedures. At least one of the three abortion providers in the state said it would resume services, the Hope Medical Group for Women clinic in Shreveport. The director of the north Louisiana clinic, Kathaleen Pittman, said that the clinic would begin offering abortions immediately.
“Our work continues and we now look ahead to our hearing on Monday, where we will ask the judge to block the bans more permanently. Every hour and every day that a clinic can still provide abortion care fundamentally changes the lives of people for the better .”
— Center for Reproductive Rights (@ReproRights) July 12, 2022
Reactions from parties involved in the lawsuit
The plaintiffs and their attorneys expressed relief and celebrated the ruling. “This is an incredible relief for people who need abortion care right now in Louisiana. Abortion care in the state can resume today, and further irreparable harm has been avoided,” senior staff attorney Jenny Ma at the Center for Reproductive Rights said.
Joanna Wright, another attorney representing the plaintiffs said in a statement, “We look forward to arguing for a preliminary injunction before Judge Johnson next Monday and, in the meanwhile, we take solace in the fact that crucial healthcare for women has been restored in the state of Louisiana.”
Attorney General Landry decried the verdict saying that the voters chose to ban abortion through their vote. “The people of Louisiana have spoken both directly at the ballot box and through their elected legislature again and again and again – not only statutoryly but also constitutionally,” he posted on Twitter.
“The rule of law must be followed, and I will not rest until it is. Unfortunately, we will have to wait a little bit longer for that to happen.”
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