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Abortion providers ask Louisiana Supreme Court to block abortion ban

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Center for Reproductive Rights
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One of Louisiana’s last abortion clinics is asking the Louisiana Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling and block the state’s near-total abortion ban from being enforced.

Hope Medical Group for Women, a Shreveport abortion clinic, and Medical Students for Choice — plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit over the abortion ban — filed the appeal Thursday, nearly a week after a three-judge panel on the First Circuit Court of Appeals found that the state’s ban on most abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, should be allowed to take effect.

“Louisiana women must have access to critical and sometimes lifesaving healthcare, and we will continue challenging the Attorney General’s attempts to undermine that access through unconstitutionally vague statutes," said Joanna Wright, a partner with Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. "This fight is far from over—we are not going anywhere.”

As of Aug. 1, abortion were again banned in Louisiana except in rare medical cases. Clinics began referring patients out of state, as far away as Colorado.

The latest round of legal instability over the law began when Judge Don Johnson, a district court judge in East Baton Rouge, issued a preliminary injuction against the abortion ban on July 21 — blocking the law from taking effect until the results of a trial.

Defendants in the case Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Louisiana Department of Health then asked the judge to stay his own decision, and when Johnson denied that request, Landry appealed to the First Circuit, asking it to force Judge Johnson to stay the preliminary injunction.

Landry argued that Johnson did not have the authority to deny the state’s appeal in part because it prevented the enforcement of a state criminal law. Landry has argued Johnson’s order posed “irreparable harm” by blocking a law presumed to be constitutional unless proven otherwise.

In the appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the plaintiffs argued the First Circuit ruling allowing the near-total abortion ban to take effect would have “a far-reaching and absurd consequence” of essentially ending the right to a preliminary injunction against any criminal law.

Plaintiffs argued that forcing a district court court to reverse course — based on the request of defendants — would strip a district court judge of the ability to ever grant a preliminary injunction in a case over the constitutionality of a criminal law.

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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