Louisiana and Utah trigger laws banning abortions temporarily blocked by courts

Judges in Louisiana and Utah on Monday temporarily blocked prohibitions on abortion in their states following last week’s US Supreme Court ruling that ends a national right to the proceedings.

The high court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years had granted women the constitutional right to an abortion. More than a dozen states set so-called trigger laws which were written to take immediate effect, banning or severely limiting abortions, in the event Roe v. Wade was overturned.

A Louisiana judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order against the state from enforcing its ban on abortions, leading to the immediate resumption of the procedure.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarrusso granted the request of plaintiffs Hope Medical Group For Women and Medical Students for Choice.

Hours later on Monday, Utah Third District Judge Judge Andrew Stone halted that state’s trigger law-enabled abortion ban, effective immediately, under a 14-day temporary restraining order requested by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.

“There is irreparable harm that has been shown,” Stone said in granting the order. “Affected women are deprived of safe, local medical treatments to terminate pregnancies.”

Planned Parenthood lawyer Julie Murray argued that because patients had access to abortion for five decades, halting the procedure with such short notice had reverberating impacts for Utah women.

The nonprofit’s facilities in Utah had more than 55 patients scheduled for abortion appointments this week, the organization said in its emergency request Saturday for a temporary restraining order.

Utah Solicitor General Tyler Green argued that there’s nothing in Utah’s constitution that specifically protects a right to abortion, and the interest of the unborn weighs as heavily as the harm to would-be patients under prohibition.

“In our view, it’s at least a draw,” he told the court.

Stone seemed to side with Planned Parenthood not just on harm, but on the underlying argument that the procedure is a personal, medical issue.

Murray said Planned Parenthood’s lawyers were working on a request for a preliminary injunction that, if successful, would keep abortion legally available in the state after the temporary restraining order expires.

Trigger laws were also being challenged in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas.

Providers in Louisiana had stopped performing abortions on Friday, unsure of the legality of the practice due to the vagueness of the bill, according to reproductive rights groups.

“Louisiana’s court made the right call today to swiftly block this unjust ban from taking effect,” according to statement by Jenny Ma, senior staff attorney fo the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.

“It is incredibly welcome news during a very dark time in our history. 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.”

Attorney General Jeff Landry said Monday his office will go to court in support of the state’s abortion ban that was “enacted by the people” of Louisiana.

“We are fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts,” Landry said in a statement.

In a statement on Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared that he’s “unabashedly pro-life and opposed to abortion,” but is seeking changes to Louisiana’s trigger law — first put in place in 2006 — because it has no exceptions for rape and incest.

“As I have said many times before, I believe women who are survivors of rape or incest should be able determine whether to continue with a pregnancy that is the result of a criminal act,” Edwards said on Friday.

Dennis Romero contributed

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