No immediate ruling in Louisiana abortion case

The Detroit News

Baton Rouge – A hearing on Louisiana’s laws banning most abortions ended Monday without an immediate ruling from a state judge who kept in place a temporary restraining order that has allowed abortions to proceed while legal arguments are unfolding.

The “trigger law” was designed to take effect immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 ruling establishing nationwide abortion rights.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry talks to reporters outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 7, 2022, in Washington. With access to abortion flickering in Louisiana, the legal battle over the statewide ban continues with a court hearing scheduled to begin Monday morning, July 18.  Landry's office will argue that the state ban is constitutional and should no longer be blocked.

In the hearing Monday, State District Judge Donald Johnson requested both sides file documents that are due Tuesday morning. In the meantime, he is maintaining a temporary restraining order that keeps the “trigger law” from going into effect, meaning abortions can still take place.

For weeks, access to abortion has been flickering in Louisiana where there are three clinics. A statewide abortion ban has taken effect twice and been blocked twice since the Supreme Court’s ruling in June.

Currently, due to a temporary order issued by a state district judge last week, authorities cannot enforce the ban and at least one clinic is offering abortion procedures.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit don’t deny that the state can ban abortion as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. Instead, they contend that Louisiana now has multiple, conflicting trigger mechanisms in the law. They also argue that state law is unclear on whether it bans an abortion prior to a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus.

And while the law provides an exception for “medically futile” pregnancies in cases of fetuses with fatal abnormalities, the plaintiffs noted it gives no definition of the term and that state health officials have not yet provided a list of conditions that would qualify as medically futile.