The 19th Judicial District has granted a preliminary injunction blocking Louisiana’s trigger law on abortion. For now, abortion is legal in the state. On Thursday, Judge Don Johnson ruled in favor of abortion providers who sued the state.

Another state, another abortion ruling. This is the new normal since the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health. Each state determines its own laws concerning abortion. In this case, the judge ruled that the state’s laws banning abortions at all points in pregnancy are too vague. He granted a preliminary injunction blocking the ban. This is a win for the state’s abortion advocates who have been fighting the trigger law in order to keep abortion clinics open. The trigger law was passed in 2006 and updated this year by the state legislature.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is expected to appeal the injunction. Landry is a Republican and is expected to run for governor next year. The battle over abortion law in Louisiana has the added twist that Governor John Bel Edwards is a Democrat but he is a pro-life Democrat. Judge Johnson is a Democrat, first elected in 1999 and he recently announced he is running for a seat on the First Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal. There is little doubt that this case will go to the Louisiana Supreme Court. There is also little doubt that abortion will be banned in Louisiana, either through the courts or by passage of a new law in the Republican-majority Legislature.

Yet, the abortionists persist. There are three abortion clinics operating in Louisiana. The law banning all abortions has gone into effect and been blocked twice through court challenges. The pro-life governor signed the new law days before the Supreme Court ruling. It is a very restrictive law – there are no exceptions for victims of rape and incest. Doctors and others are subject to prison terms up to 15 years for performing abortions.

Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport has been performing abortions since Tuesday when the temporary restraining order went into effect. “Our phones are ringing off the wall,” she said.

The clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge are also offering abortions, though on a limited schedule because one of the doctors is on medical leave, said Amy Irvin, a spokesperson for the clinics.

Irvin said the clinics are seeing patients from Texas, Mississippi, Florida and across Louisiana.

“We applaud the judge’s measured and reasoned decision and are thankful to be offering essential health care to Louisianans and those traveling from nearby states where abortion remains inaccessible or illegal,” she said.

In Louisiana, as in some other states, there is confusion about if and when doctors and others will be prosecuted for performing or assisting with abortions.

Dr. Valerie Williams of New Orleans filed an affidavit saying she was advised by a lawyer not to perform an abortion-like procedure on a woman whose water broke at 16 weeks of pregnancy, leaving her with a non-viable fetus. The woman instead had to endure a “painful” and “unnecessary” labor that led to her hemorrhaging a liter of blood, the affidavit said.

Landry’s attorneys argued the laws are plenty clear, and that if doctors use “reasonable medical judgment” they’ll be safe from prosecution.

Joanna Wright, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling ensures that women continue having access to “comprehensive — and sometimes life-saving — health care services.”

“With this decision, Chief Judge Johnson determined that we are likely to succeed on the merits of our lawsuit,” she said. “We are prepared to prove our case and hope to obtain a final ruling that the trigger bans are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. In the interim, providers are protected against vindictive prosecution from the state.”

The judge referenced members of the Medical Students for Choice, one of the plaintiffs in the case, in his ruling. While speaking about the vagueness of the law Johnson said the plaintiffs don’t have “adequate notice if, or to what extent, they can continue to perform or assist” in abortions.

Johnson said that is a violation of the members’ rights to due process. “This harm is not speculative,” Johnson wrote. He added that members of Medical Students for Choice risk prosecution if they were to incorrectly apply abortion laws.

The optimism of the abortionists that they will be victorious in their legal challenge to the Louisiana law will soon vanish. It’s just a matter of time before the law is back intact and maybe even improved so as to better define the legal responsibilities of the medical community.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...