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Most abortions will continue to be banned after Louisiana Supreme Court decision

hope_clinic.png
Center for Reproductive Rights
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Nearly all abortions remain illegal in Louisiana after the Louisiana Supreme Court voted to keep the statewide ban in effect. The ban has no exceptions for rape or incest.

Lawyers for one of the state’s last abortion clinics and a plaintiff in the case, Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, said four of seven justices denied their writ application to overrule a lower court decision. The justices issued the ruling without a written explanation.

Justices Jefferson D. Hughes III, James T. Genovese, William J. Crain and Jay B. McCallum voted to deny the writ application. Justice Piper D. Griffin – the lone woman on the court – and Justice Scott J. Crichton did not vote.

Chief Justice John L. Weimer also did not cast a vote. Weimer previously recused himself on the case because he had been involved in litigation in federal court with Attorney General Jeff Landry, one of the defendants.

Kathaleen Pittman, the clinic’s administrator, said they were working on next steps in the legal battle over the state’s ban.

“Basically, talking with our lawyers to find a way forward,” Pittman said. “That’s all I can tell you at this point.”

Joanna Wright, a lead lawyer for Hope, said the litigation will continue.

“There is already a swell of public opinion building in the state, including within the medical community, that these vague trigger laws are unworkable in practice and doing real harm to Louisianans.”

Louisiana Right to Life, the state’s leading anti-abortion group and one of the authors of the law at the center of the case, was the first to report the ruling Friday.

“We are thankful that babies in Louisiana will continue to be protected from abortion while the abortion industry’s frivolous lawsuit plays out in court,” said Benjamin Clapper, the executive director of Louisiana Right to Life. He called the lawsuit “disrespectful” to legislators who voted to criminalize nearly all abortions in the state.

The ban has already changed medical care for women in Louisiana hospitals. In one case, a woman who was 16 weeks pregnant when her water broke was denied an abortion at an LCMC hospital, even though her fetus had no chance of survival. Instead, she was forced to deliver the fetus and lost one liter of blood, according to an affidavit filed in the lawsuit by her doctor.

Doctors in Louisiana hospitals have said the ban could lead to women’s deaths and create a chill in the medical community. Physicians told WWNO that the law is vague and could lead doctors to delay or deny abortion care, even when allowed under the ban’s narrow exceptions to save the life of the patient or when a fetus is deemed “medically futile,” or too sick to survive outside the womb.

The ban carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail for anyone who provides an abortion deemed illegal.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to issue a correction.

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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