NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s three abortion clinics will resume services after a state judge temporarily lifted a state abortion ban on Monday.
The Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport and the Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge will resume offering abortions on Tuesday, and the Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans will see patients for abortions on Thursday, according to clinic spokespersons. .
The Shreveport clinic, which is open Monday through Saturday, will continue appointments for abortions and other services for the rest of the week. Patients who were already scheduled for abortion appointments this week will be a priority. The clinic is trying to accommodate people whose abortions were canceled last Friday and Saturday when the state abortion ban originally went into effect.
The Baton Rouge clinic will only see patients who already have abortion appointments scheduled. It is usually only open on Tuesdays and none of its patients have yet been affected by the state ban.
The New Orleans clinic is taking appointments for new abortion patients and will prioritize people whose abortion appointments were canceled on Friday due to the state ban, Amy Irvin said , spokesperson for the clinic.
Abortions are legal again in Louisiana until at least July 8, when Orleans Parish District Judge Robin Giarrusso holds his first hearing in a lawsuit challenging the nationwide abortion ban. of State. Giarrusso issued a temporary restraining order from the state’s abortion law before she even considered the merits of the case.
All three Louisiana clinics stopped providing abortions hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade Friday. The court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization scuttled the constitutional right to abortion and was supposed to pave the way for Louisiana’s automatic abortion ban through a “trigger” state law.
The Louisiana Department of Health sent notices to the three clinics late Friday saying they must abide by the statewide abortion ban, which prohibits nearly all medical or surgical abortions. Exceptions include where a person might die or sustain a life-changing injury as a result of the pregnancy.
Lawsuit claims conflicts in state law, tips
The Shreveport Abortion Clinic, its administrator Kathaleen Pittman and a group of New Orleans medical students who support abortion rights filed a lawsuit Monday morning in Orleans Civil District Court. His named defendants are Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and Health Secretary Courtney Phillips, who works for Gov. John Bel Edwards, an anti-abortion Democrat.
“It is unfortunate that there are those who continue to use confusion, misinformation and deception as scare tactics in the face of the recent SCOTUS Dobbs decision,” Landry said in a written statement Monday. “We are fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts.”
The plaintiffs argued that Louisiana’s many conflicting abortion laws are “vague” and fail to meet the requirement for fair and equal treatment under the state constitution. Medical students involved in the lawsuit also claimed they could not get the education and training they need in Louisiana to become effective doctors.
“They find it even more difficult to be trained in abortion and miscarriage management techniques, because the doctors who provide the training do not know if they can provide such training and advice in the current state of the world. law,” wrote Ellie Schilling, attorney for the plaintiffs, in a legal brief.
The state has not one but three trigger laws containing abortion bans that contradict each other, according to Schilling. The three laws – one passed in 2006 and two others signed just a week ago – contain conflicting definitions of an illegal abortion and different penalties for the practice.
They range from maximum sentences of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine to 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine, depending on which law is implemented, Schilling wrote.
“The Trigger Bans inconsistently define what constitutes an abortion and therefore what conduct is prohibited, making it impossible for an ordinary citizen to determine exactly what is illegal,” she said.
The trigger laws also have different starting points for when pregnancy termination becomes illegal, according to Schilling. It is unclear whether life begins after an egg is fertilized by a sperm or after that fertilized egg implants in the uterus, she wrote.
The most recent abortion ban, which Edwards signed last week, also allows a legal abortion if two doctors determine a pregnancy is “futile,” but doesn’t clearly define what a “futile” pregnancy is. “, wrote Schilling. The state health department is supposed to come up with regulations outlining what constitutes an “unnecessary” pregnancy, but hasn’t had a chance to do so yet, she said.
Schilling also argued that Landry, Edwards and the health department sent conflicting statements last week about which trigger ban was in place and to what extent. It’s also unclear how the ban will be enforced, leaving too much leeway for local law enforcement officials, she said.
Confusion around the effective date
Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion groups both acknowledged last week that there may be some confusion around the most recent abortion ban law, as much of Act 545sponsored by Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, may not go into effect until Aug. 1.
Louisiana legislation that is supposed to go into effect at a time other than Aug. 1 typically contains explicit language at the bottom of the bill that indicates an alternate start date. Jackson’s legislation only has wording that made a section of it effective immediately. Other parts don’t include an effective date, so it could default to August 1, Ben Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said last week.
Sections of the bill that could be delayed until August 1 include those that allow legal abortion for a “futile” pregnancy. If that language isn’t in effect by August 1, Clapper said that exception might not be available.
There’s also “clarifying language” about emergency contraception in a section of Jackson’s bill that may not come into effect until August 1. for contraception, more broadly, was included in a 2006 abortion ban that would come into effect.
The confusion over Jackson’s bill start date was unintentional. This could be the result of a drafting error. Jackson could not be reached for comment on Monday.
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Its legislation was completely rewritten in the final days of the legislative session, and calls by pro-abortion rights advocates in the Legislative Assembly for more time to consider the bill were rebuffed.
Lawmakers complained they were asked to vote on 15 pages of bill amendments without time to read them over or seek expert advice, but anti-abortion lawmakers didn’t delay the vote. The legislature approved the bill hours after its massive rewrite was made public.