Courts Block Louisiana Abortion Laws, Allow Florida's 15-Week Ban

By Nate Raymond

July 22, 2022

(Reuters) - A Louisiana judge on Thursday blocked enforcement of the state's "trigger" laws banning abortion while a Florida appeals court declined to put on hold a prohibition on abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy that took effect earlier this month.

The rulings came amid a flurry of litigation over abortion bans that began springing into effect in mostly Republican-led states after the U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned the constitutional right to the procedure nationwide.

In Louisiana, Judge Donald Johnson issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing so-called "trigger" laws designed to ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, as it did June 24.

In Florida, an appeals court rejected a request by abortion clinics to allow a recently paused injunction that would block enforcement of the state's 15-week ban to take effect, saying a trial judge lacked authority to issue it.

Judge Bradford Thomas, writing for a 2-1 panel of the Florida First District Court of Appeal, said only the clinics' patients, and not the clinics themselves, could claim their privacy rights were being irreparably harmed by the law.

The court also declined to fast-track the case for the Florida Supreme Court's consideration. The clinics' lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Reproductive Rights and other groups called the ruling a "cruel" denial of Floridians' rights.

Florida had permitted abortions up to 24 weeks before the 15-week ban took effect July 1.

About half of the states have or are expected to seek to ban or curtail abortions following the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Those states include Louisiana, which like 12 other states adopted "trigger" laws banning abortion upon such a decision.

Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, one of Louisiana's three abortion clinics, sued to resume services, arguing the trigger laws were vague, conflicted with each other, and violated its state constitutional due process rights.

A New Orleans judge on June 27 temporarily blocked the laws' enforcement, but they went back into effect after a different judge on July 8 transferred the case to Baton Rouge.

Judge Johnson four days later temporarily blocked their enforcement again while he considered issuing Thursday's preliminary injunction.

State Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry said he would ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to bring an end to the "legal circus."

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Christopher Cushing)

processing....