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Abortions in Louisiana Back On as State Court Blocks Trigger Ban

July 13, 2022, 3:21 PM

Abortion providers in Louisiana can reopen after a state court again blocked the state from enforcing laws that ban almost all abortions following the US Supreme Court’s declaration that there’s no federal constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

The brief order released Tuesday by Judge Donald Johnson of the Louisiana District Court for East Baton Rouge Parish provides no reasoning for granting the temporary restraining order, which will be in effect until the court decides on whether to issue a preliminary injunction. Johnson set a preliminary injunction hearing for July 18.

The case is one of several recently filed in state courts to invalidate abortions restrictions under state laws, as well as constitutions that explicitly protect privacy rights. Battle lines have been drawn in Utah, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Florida, for example.

Jenny Ma, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights who represents June Medical Services LLC and other providers, called the decision “an incredible relief for people who need abortion care right now in Louisiana.”

Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, called the suit “frivolous,” and the decision “disappointing.” The order prevents “laws supported by our citizens and their legislators from being enforced to protect babies from abortion,” he said.

June Medical, which does business as Hope Medical Group for Women, is one of only three abortion providers in Louisiana. It’s fighting to invalidate three separate “trigger” laws that purport to completely ban abortion, claiming they are unconstitutionally vague. Trigger laws are meant to take effect—or “triggered"— when the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which did June 24.

The provider said conflicting statements issued by state and local officials have made it unclear which of Lousiana’s trigger laws is in effect. Beyond that, it’s impossible to tell what conduct the laws prohibit, what exceptions apply, and the criminal penalties they impose, given the laws’ inconsistencies, June Medical said.

Judge Robin M. Giarrusso of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, where the case was filed, temporarily blocked the laws’ enforcement June 27. But the court decided July 8 that it had been filed in the wrong place and transferred the case to East Baton Rouge Parish.

CRR; Schonekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin LLC; and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP represent June Medical. Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert LLC represent Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) and Health Secretary Courtney Phillips.

The case is June Med. Servs., LLC v. Landry, La. Dist. Ct., No. C-720988, released 7/12/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Anne Pazanowski in Washington at mpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Carmen Castro-Pagán at ccastro-pagan@bloomberglaw.com