A Judge Has Temporarily Blocked Louisiana From Enforcing Its "Trigger Laws" Banning Abortion

The state's so-called trigger laws banning abortion were temporarily blocked following a legal challenge from one of its three remaining abortion clinics.

A judge blocked Louisiana's laws so-called trigger laws banning abortion on Monday, allowing procedures to resume for now even though the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

The temporary restraining order comes just hours after the Center for Reproductive Justice and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP sued the state on behalf of Hope Medical Group for Women, one of Louisiana's three remaining abortion clinics, arguing that the laws were so vague that it was unclear what conduct they prohibited, what exceptions were allowed, and what penalties would be in force.

Louisiana’s rushed and poorly conceived trigger laws are unconstitutionally vague and violate due process," Joanna Wright, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that in his haste to score political points in the aftermath of Dobbs, the state’s Attorney General has ushered in an era of complete disregard for women’s bodily integrity and reproductive autonomy.”

On Friday, several states, including Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, and Kentucky, began enforcing pre-Roe bans or trigger laws outlawing abortion in response to the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which overturned the landmark 1973 decision that had legalized abortion nationwide. As a result, clinics in those states were forced to cancel appointments, leaving patients scrambling to find care elsewhere.

Of the 26 states expected to ban abortion early in pregnancy or outright, 13 have "trigger laws" designed to take effect immediately or through swift action by state governments upon Roe's reversal.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling, confusion over whether states' abortion bans were now legally enforceable led some clinics in Arizona and Texas to stop providing services. Also on Monday, a judge in Utah granted a temporary restraining order to block the state's trigger law after the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sued. Abortion providers in Texas and Kentucky also sued to challenge the enforcement of outright bans on the procedure.

“People who need an abortion right now are in a state of panic," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

Northup vowed that the center, which represented Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic in the Dobbs case, would continue to fight to restore access to abortion in Louisiana and other states "for as long as we can."

"Every day that a clinic is open and providing abortion services can make a difference in a person’s life," she said.

Topics in this article