NEW ORLEANS –
Louisiana can now enforce its ban on nearly all abortions under a judge’s order issued Friday amid a series of court challenges to state “trigger” laws designed to take effect when the US Supreme Court rules. overturned Roe v. Wade.
The decision came on the same day that President Joe Biden issued an executive order to protect access to abortion in states where it is still legal and mitigate potential penalties that women seeking the procedure may face after the high court ruling. the 24th of June.
Days after the Supreme Court decision, Louisiana District Judge Robin Giarrusso issued a temporary restraining order barring the application of the state law in response to a lawsuit filed by a northern Louisiana abortion clinic and others.
State District Judge Ethel Julien said Friday that she did not have the authority to extend the restraining order because she had concluded the lawsuit should not have been filed in her court. She said the lawsuit’s claims that the law’s provisions are unconstitutionally vague and inconsistent are matters of legislation and therefore must be heard in state court in the capital, Baton Rouge.
The ruling was a victory for Attorney General Jeff Landry and the state’s attorneys, who argued that the lawsuit had been improperly filed in New Orleans.
Lawyers for the law’s challengers did not detail their next step, but said they would continue to press the case in Baton Rouge. “This was a decision on a technicality that had nothing to do with the merits of our case, which were not discussed or considered by the parties or the court today,” lead attorney Joanna Wright said. “This fight is far from over.”
Immediately after Julien’s ruling, Amy Irvin, a spokeswoman for abortion clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, said no procedures or counseling were scheduled for any of the next few days. However, she added that the decision does not mean that the clinics will close. She said clinic operators would await action in state court in Baton Rouge before deciding their next action.
The administrator of Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told The Associated Press that clinic staff were canceling all abortion appointments scheduled for Saturday. Kathaleen Pittman said no procedures or appointments had been scheduled for Friday. She said the clinic would continue to schedule appointments for women to get ultrasounds and counseling next week.
“It’s annoying. It’s very difficult. It’s a really difficult day,” Pittman said.
In court, Landry warned clinics and doctors not to perform abortions after Julien’s ruling. “If they continue to operate, they do so at their own risk,” Landry said.
Some 60 protesters gathered outside the courthouse on Friday with banners reading “Abortion is health care” and “Do you want women to die?” The protesters, who want to keep the state’s abortion clinics open, criticized Landry, who has been a strong supporter of efforts to ban abortion statewide.
Abortion rights advocates in numerous states have challenged laws restricting the procedure in court. In Mississippi, site of the case that led to the Supreme Court decision, lawyers for the state’s only abortion clinic filed a petition Thursday asking the state’s supreme court to temporarily block a new law that bans most abortions. . The attorneys made the request the day the law went into effect and two days after a Mississippi judge rejected the same request.
The story has been edited to clarify that Julien did not lift the order per se, but said he had no authority to extend it after determining the case did not belong to his court.
Associated Press writer Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.