Louisiana Judge Temporarily Stops Dangerous Abortion Ban

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After the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving state officials with the ability to regulate abortion according to their personal ambitions, the process of imposing harsh new restrictions on abortion quickly started. Now, a judge in Louisiana has temporarily stopped the enforcement of an abortion ban in that state as proceedings continue.

That ban was passed before the Supreme Court actually overturned Roe. Louisiana was one of the more than a dozen states that passed so-called trigger bans on abortion designed to go into effect in the event Roe was eventually overturned, and it’s “trigger” legislation in Louisiana that’s been temporarily stopped. The three abortion clinics left in Louisiana indicated they’d restart abortions following the decision by Judge Robin M. Giarrusso of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court to issue a temporary restraining order halting the enforcement of the state ban. It’s those three clinics that sought emergency relief ahead of Giarrusso’s decision. There’s a hearing in the case scheduled for July 8 — which isn’t that far off.

Jason Williams, the district attorney for Orleans Parish in Louisiana, signed a joint statement from prosecutors across the nation pledging not to bring prosecutions in connection to any cases involving a patient receiving an abortion. The statement says signatories “decline to use our offices’ resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions and commit to exercise our well-settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.” Williams was — as of Monday — the only signatory from Louisiana. The abortion providers challenging the state restrictions in Louisiana said the trigger ban is in violation of the state’s Constitution and is “void for vagueness” because of an apparent lack of clarity regarding the timing of the provisions becoming active and — among other specifics — what can be done in cases involving a pregnant person whose life could be saved by providing an abortion.

The trigger ban in Louisiana includes exceptions for preventing serious injury or death to a pregnant person but none for cases involving rape or incest. Joanna Wright, a lead lawyer on the case in which the abortion providers are challenging the Louisiana restrictions, said Monday that the threat of criminal prosecution “puts care providers in this impossible position of having to turn away women who possibly need abortion care to save their life in order to avoid going to jail.” There’s also new litigation against abortion restrictions in Utah. The new lawsuit challenging Utah’s abortion ban alleges it violates an array of rights protected by the state constitution. The case argues “that the rights promised under the Utah Constitution are more expansive than those under federal law, and remain unaffected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision,” as a Planned Parenthood press release explains. Rights at issue include those to equality, privacy, and religious freedom, per the lawsuit. Utah also had a “trigger” ban.