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Louisiana's near-total abortion ban is back in effect after Baton Rouge judge signs order

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Center for Reproductive Rights
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Nearly all abortions are again illegal in Louisiana as of Aug. 1, after an appeals court ruled the state’s near-total abortion ban can take effect.

Judge Don Johnson of the 19th Judicial District Circuit signed an order that suspended a preliminary injunction against the law, after he was ordered to do so by a three-judge panel on the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday. The order was first reported by The Advocate.

Louisiana abortion clinics received notice from the Louisiana Department of Health on Tuesday stating the trigger ban criminalizing most abortions went back into effect on Aug. 1. The law bans abortions even in cases of rape and incest. The only exceptions are for rare cases for medical emergencies to save a patient’s life or when the fetus wouldn’t survive birth.

As of Monday, Louisiana’s three abortion clinics had again stopped procedures. Clinics in Baton Rouge and New Orleans collectively canceled 120 abortion procedures planned for this week and began referring patients to clinics out of state, as far as Colorado. 

Hope Medical Group for Women, a Shreveport abortion clinic and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said it was considering its next legal move. 

“We are going to look at our options and take it further if we can,” Kathaleen Pittman, the clinic administrator, said. “In the meantime we're not technically closed because we’re manning phones to help these ladies get where they need to be if at all possible.” 

Johnson’s order marks the third time Louisiana’s near-total abortion ban has taken effect amid a legal battle over abortion access in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. 

The judge’s order was leaked to the press Monday morning before plaintiffs in the case were notified, causing confusion over when the abortion ban could actually be enforced. 

The court battle over the ban is ongoing, and a final resolution could take months.

This story has been updated to include additional information from the plaintiffs in this case.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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