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Louisiana judge temporarily blocks enforcement of state’s trigger law

By Jesús Jiménez


At least one of Louisiana’s three remaining abortion clinics said it would resume performing the procedure after a judge Monday temporarily blocked enforcement of the state’s abortion “trigger laws.”


Louisiana is one of 13 states where the legislature had previously enacted laws designed to curtail abortions, in anticipation of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. The state’s three operating clinics filed a petition seeking emergency relief and received a temporary restraining order.


One of the clinics, Hope Medical Clinic for Women, planned to continue operating with the order in place, a spokesperson for one of the law firms representing the clinics said Monday. The state’s other two clinics are expected to continue as well, although that had not been confirmed. Judge Robin Giarrusso of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, who granted the order, set a hearing in the case for July 8.


Abortion care providers in states with trigger laws, like Louisiana, have said they are uncertain whether they could face immediate consequences for providing care to those seeking an abortion. Some prosecutors have suggested they would not file charges under trigger laws, including Jason Williams, the New Orleans district attorney, who said Friday that his office would not prosecute patients or physicians.


Abortion providers in Louisiana argued that the state’s trigger laws violate the state’s constitution and “are void for vagueness” because it is unclear if they would take immediate effect after the Supreme Court’s ruling, and they do not provide enough specifics about banned actions — such as what exceptions exist for medical workers trying to save a pregnant woman’s life.


Joanna Wright, one of the lead lawyers on the case, said that abortion clinics have been unable to provide services since the Supreme Court ruling because they cannot risk criminal prosecution, which could include mandatory jail time.


“That 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,” she said Monday.


A trigger law in Louisiana has been on the books since 2006, banning anyone from performing an abortion or providing a woman with drugs to interrupt a pregnancy. The law would allow exceptions to prevent serious injury or death to a pregnant woman, but not for rape or incest. Another law was signed by the governor this month in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision.


Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said in a statement Monday that his organization was thankful that the state’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry, “will vigorously defend our pro-life laws.”


Landry said in a statement Monday that his office was “fully prepared” to defend the state’s trigger laws. “It is unfortunate that there are those who continue to utilize confusion, misinformation and deceit as scare tactics” after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe, he said.

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