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Louisiana and Utah trigger law banning abortion temporarily blocked by judge

‘It is incredibly welcome news during a very dark time in our history,’ attorney says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 27 June 2022 23:11 BST
Related video: Anger, fear after Roe v. Wade reversal

Trigger laws bannning abortion have been temporarily blocked by judges Louisiana and Utah.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarrusso issued a temporary restraining order on Monday against the state from enforcing its abortion ban, prompting the procedure to once again be conducted in the state.

Judge Giarrusso granted the request from plaintiffs Hope Medical Group For Women and Medical Students for Choice.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade on Friday after it had provided the constitutional right to an abortion for almost five decades.

Over a dozen states had put in place so-called trigger laws to take effect and ban abortion as soon as Roe was overturned.

Louisiana abortion providers ceased their procedures on Friday as they were unsure if the measure was still legal in their state as the trigger law was vague, reproductive rights groups said, according to NBC News.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of the paintiffs.

In Utah, a judge on Monday also temporarily blocked that state’s near-total abortion ban, after Planned Parenthood challenged a trigger law there that contains narrow exceptions. The decision stands for 14 days.

Senior staff attorney Jenny Ma said in a statement that “Louisiana’s court made the right call today to swiftly block this unjust ban from taking effect”.

“It is incredibly welcome news during a very dark time in our history,” she added. “This means that Louisiana patients will still be able to access the essential health care they need — every second that abortion is accessible counts. While the fight is far from over, we will do everything in our power to preserve abortion access in Louisiana and across the country.”

A rare pro-life Democrat, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement on Friday following the overturning of Roe: “I am and have always been unabashedly pro-life and opposed to abortion. However, I understand that people on both sides of this complex issue hold deeply personal beliefs, and I respect that not everyone, including many in my own party, agrees with my position.

“Louisiana has had a trigger law in place since 2006 that would outlaw abortion, without exception for rape and incest, should the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe v Wade,” he added.

“I asked the Legislature to include exceptions for rape and incest in the legislation most recently passed. While the bill that passed expanded the exceptions from the 2006 law to include instances of medical futility and treatment of ectopic pregnancies, these important exceptions were not included,” he said. “As I have said many times before, I believe women who are survivors of rape or incest should be able [to] determine whether to continue with a pregnancy that is the result of a criminal act.”

“And, to be clear, the legislation I recently signed protects all forms of contraception, including emergency contraception, which remains fully legal and available in Louisiana,” he noted.

The President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, said in a statement: “As expected, Louisiana and many other states wasted no time enacting bans and eliminating abortion entirely. People who need an abortion right now are in a state of panic. We will be fighting to restore access in Louisiana and other states for as long as we can.”

The Administrator of the Hope Medical Group for Women, Kathaleen Pittman, said that “seeking reproductive care is already difficult in the US, and especially in Louisiana.”

“We are committed to this monumental legal challenge – not to perpetuate an endless political battle, but to ensure our patients’ wellbeing and so that they may draw strength from our dedication to this fight,” she added.

Pamela Merritt, the Executive Director at Medical Students for Choice, said that their members are “outraged and heartbroken by the Supreme Court’s decision. While we have been actively preparing for this moment, it’s never easy to see the government take human rights away from millions of people, including those in Louisiana”.

“We have joined this important lawsuit because we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that medical students in the United States continue receiving education and training in abortion and family planning,” she added.

A partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Joanna Wright said that “Louisiana’s rushed and poorly conceived trigger laws are unconstitutionally vague and violate due process. The Louisiana Constitution does not tolerate such a state of affairs and this lawsuit requires Louisiana to comport with the rule of law as required by its own Constitution”.

Additional reporting by agencies

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