Louisiana abortion ban blocked once again by judge pending Monday hearing

Abortion Rights Supporter Outside Clinic
An abortion rights supporter sits outside a New Orleans clinic June 24, 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled its 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. It’s one of three Louisiana abortion clinics that will resume services after a state judge temporarily stopped a state abortion ban from taking effect. Piper Hutchinson (LA Illuminator)

This story was first reported by Louisiana Illuminator and republished with permission.

Louisiana officials have once again been restrained from enforcing the state’s stringent abortion ban, this time by a state judge in Baton Rouge.

Judge Don Johnson issued the temporary restraining order Tuesday in 19th Judicial District Court, prohibiting Attorney General Jeff Landry and Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Courtney Phillips from enforcing the state’s abortion ban. The law prohibits abortion in all cases except to save the life of the mother or if the fetus has a condition incompatible with life outside the womb.

Kathaleen Pittman, director of Hope Medical Group for Women, a Shreveport-based abortion clinic, said that the clinic would begin offering abortions immediately.

Landry took to Twitter to share his disappointment in the ruling.

“The people of Louisiana have spoken both directly at the ballot box and through their elected legislature again and again and again – not only statutorily but also constitutionally,” Landry said in a tweet. “The rule of law must be followed, and I will not rest until it is. Unfortunately, we will have to wait a little bit longer for that to happen.”

Landry added that “any society that places themselves before their children (the future) does not last.

The order is the latest development in the back-and-forth legal battle between abortion providers and state enforcement. It is likely to stand at least until Monday, when the case will be heard on its merits in East Baton Rouge Civil Court.

The suit, filed by Hope Medical Group for Women, Pittman and Medical Students for Choice, a New Orleans-based group, was originally filed in Orleans Parish.

A previous restraining order, implemented just days after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, was lifted Friday after Orleans Civil District Judge Ethel Julien transferred the case to East Baton Rouge Parish after attorneys representing Landry successfully argued that Orleans Parish was the wrong venue for the suit.

Joanna Wright, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case, celebrated the latest development in a statement.

“We look forward to arguing for a preliminary injunction before Judge Johnson next Monday and, in the meantime, we take solace in the fact that crucial healthcare for women has been restored in the state of Louisiana,” Wright said.

Louisiana Right to Life reacted to the ruling on Twitter. “These delays are a waste of taxpayer dollars. They lead to more precious innocent babies aborted. This is a disappointment to Louisiana,” the group posted.

David Schmit, communications director for Lift Louisiana, a pro-abortion rights group, issued a statement celebrating the new temporary restraining order.

“Today is a good day in Louisiana,” Schmit wrote. “By this judge issuing a temporary restraining order on Louisiana’s trigger ban, he has restored the right to privacy and bodily autonomy for all people who can become pregnant if only temporarily. Everyday that the TRO is in effect means another day people who need and deserve abortion services can access it.”