A judge in Louisiana blocked the state from enforcing a near-total abortion ban for the second time on Tuesday, temporarily allowing the procedure amid a legal back-and-forth after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade.
Judge Donald Johnson has issued a temporary restraining order blocking state abortion bans as a high-profile legal challenge progresses in the capital, Baton Rouge. Another judge previously issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the state’s three abortion bans from going into effect last month, but another judge said last week that the court did not have the power to do so, immediately banning abortions again.
Johnson’s latest decision will effectively allow abortion services in the state to resume until at least July 18, when he will hold a hearing on the matter.
The legal maneuverings have left Louisianans and abortion providers scrambling to figure out how to operate in the state’s post-Roe system. The New York Times noted that one of the state’s few remaining abortion clinics, in Shreveport, said it would resume services for at least the next few days, calling the conflicting decisions “crazy” and “stressful”.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry blasted the judge’s decision, saying people “have spoken both directly at the ballot box and through their elected legislature over and over and over again.”
“Letting the justice system create a legal circus is disappointing and discredits the institutions we rely on for a stable society,” Landry wrote on Twitter. “The rule of law must be upheld, and I will have no rest until it is. Unfortunately, we will have to wait a little longer for that to happen.
“Any society that puts itself before its children (the future) does not last,” he concluded.
Abortion rights groups hailed the decision, saying it was an “incredible relief for people who need abortion care right now in Louisiana.”
“Abortion care in the state can resume today and further irreparable damage has been averted,” Jenny Ma, senior attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “Our work continues and we now await our hearing on Monday, where we will ask the judge to block the bans more permanently. Every hour and day that a clinic can still provide abortion care fundamentally changes people’s lives. for the best.
Louisiana was one of several states that had so-called trigger laws on the books that made abortion bans effective as soon as the conservative Supreme Court majority voted to overturn Roe v. Wade last month. But healthcare providers quickly filed lawsuits to stop them from moving forward.
The New York Times reported that the Louisiana State Constitution does not provide for the right to abortion, granting lawmakers the ability to pass laws restricting the procedure. But women’s rights groups and abortion providers have sued, saying the trigger laws violate due process and are “void for vagueness”.
The laws provide an exception for patients who have “medically futile” pregnancies, but give no definition of what that means or what conditions would be eligible for those seeking an abortion, the Associated Press reported.
The law does not provide exceptions for victims of rape or incest.