A Louisiana judge blocked enforcement of new laws prohibiting abortion Monday in one of the first of many expected challenges to bans following the Supreme Court’s decision to end the federal right to the procedure.
The judge in the state district court in New Orleans issued an order preventing implementation of three separate laws severely restricting abortions that were to come into effect upon the high court’s ruling on Friday.
The move responded to a lawsuit by one of the state’s three abortion providers, Hope Medical Group for Women, and the pro-abortion rights group Medical Students for Choice.
The suit challenged laws passed in expectation that the Supreme Court would overturn the nearly five-decade old Roe v. Wade judgement, which said the US constitution protected a woman’s right to abortion.
The plaintiffs argued that the three “trigger bans” were vague in not saying specifically what conduct is banned, or when.
“There is no process in place to determine that any one of the trigger bans has, in fact, gone into effect,” the suit said.
It cited state and local officials issuing conflicting statements on Friday over which of the three laws was in effect and how they would be enforced, if at all.
“There is tremendous urgency around this petition and emergency motion,” they said.
Nevertheless, the trigger laws had momentarily forced the three abortion providers in the state to halt their work.
The Supreme Court’s decision “has precipitated a tidal wave of canceled appointments and the withdrawal of critical services in states with trigger laws throughout the nation, perhaps none more so than in Louisiana where the trigger laws are immediately effective,” the suit said.
The judge placed a temporary restraining order on implementation of the three laws, in advance of a hearing on July 8 in which the groups behind the suit hope to gain a permanent injunction.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which supported the lawsuit, said that abortion services would continue in Louisiana in the meantime.
The suit was one of several challenging full or partial abortion bans triggered by the Supreme Court’s decision in states including Florida, Ohio, Texas, Idaho, Mississippi and Utah.
In Utah, Planned Parenthood said a court had granted a temporary restraining order to block a 2020 abortion ban that took effect after the Supreme Court ruling last week.
“We’re grateful for this temporary restraining order that will allow abortion services to resume in Utah,” said Karrie Galloway, the group’s president in the western state.
“Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight,” she said in a statement.
Such bans are expected to be implemented in some 26 of the 50 states, and will force women in those states seeking abortions to travel sometimes hundreds of miles to a state where the procedure remains legal.