BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana authorities have once again been blocked from enforcing the state’s near-total ban on abortion, this time under an order released Tuesday by a state judge in the capital.
The order blocks enforcement temporarily while lawyers for the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport and other supporters of abortion rights pursue a lawsuit challenging the legislation.
The suit originated in New Orleans, where a judge issued a temporary order blocking enforcement on June 27, just three days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 ruling establishing nationwide abortion rights.
But a second New Orleans judge sent the case to Baton Rouge earlier this month (July 8), saying state law required that it be heard in the capital. Judge Ethel Julien then said that because the case was no longer going to be heard in her court, she did not have the authority to extend the temporary restraining order blocking the law’s enforcement.
Louisiana’s law includes “trigger language” that made it effective when the Supreme Court reversed abortion rights.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs don’t deny that the state can now ban abortion as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, but they say current state law is unconstitutionally vague. They contend that Louisiana now has multiple, conflicting trigger mechanisms in the law. They also argue that the state law is unclear on whether it bans an abortion prior to a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus.
And while the law provides an exception for “medically futile” pregnancies in cases of fetuses with fatal abnormalities, the plaintiffs note it gives no definition of the term and that state health officials haven’t yet provided a list of conditions that would qualify. The suit claims the state law is unclear on when the ban takes effect and on medical exceptions to it.
“This is an incredible relief for people who need abortion care right now in Louisiana,” CRR senor staff attorney Jenny Ma said in a statement on Monday’s ruling.
“Abortion care in the state can resume today, and further irreparable harm has been avoided. 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.”