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Utah, Louisiana Judges Block Abortion Trigger Laws After Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Supreme Court ended Roe V Wade and now the trigger laws that have been on the books in many states are set to take effect, but that has not stopped lawsuits from Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice activists, and some judges, from stopping them temporarily.

On Monday, 3rd District Court Judge Andrew Stone granted Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah’s request for an injunction against the law after an emergency hearing, Fox 13 reported.

“The immediate effects that will occur outweigh any policy interest of the state in stopping abortions immediately,” he said. “Doctors here are threatened with felonies. Affected women are deprived of safe, local medical treatments to terminate pregnancies.”

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The judge cautioned that the injunction was only temporary, as it will last 14 days before he can hear the case, and that it could go to the Utah Supreme Court.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported:

The law bans abortions in the Beehive State, except in these limited circumstances:

  • If it “is necessary to avert the death” or if there is “a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” of the pregnant woman.
  • “Two physicians who practice maternal fetal medicine concur … that the fetus has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal,” or “has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable.” According to the law, this does not include Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy or any condition “that does not cause an individual to live in a mentally vegetative state.”
  • The pregnancy was caused by a rape or incest. Before performing an abortion, the physician will have to verify the rape or incest has been reported to law enforcement or the proper authorities.

“The Supreme Court ruling was devastating and terrifying for our patients and providers, but at least for now, Utahns will be able to get the care they need,” Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said. “Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight. Planned Parenthood will always stand alongside our patients and providers — no matter what.”

Earlier in the day, a Louisiana judge blocked that state’s trigger law, The Washington Post reported.

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“In a stunning state of affairs, the day [the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling] was issued, state and local officials issued conflicting statements about whether and which trigger laws were actually in effect and thus what conduct — if any — was prohibited,” abortion providers argued in the case. “Due process requires more.”

Some antiabortion group leaders had anticipated that courts may block trigger laws.

Students for Life, a national anti-abortion organization, has been encouraging antiabortion states to pass more than one law banning abortion, so the states can activate backup legislation if their first law is successfully challenged.

“The more things you can pass and the more things you can push through, the harder it’s going to be for the abortion lobby to file a blanket lawsuit to stop it,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, said.

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And the Florida law that bans abortions after 15 weeks is set to be tested in court, The Tallahassee Democrat reported.

“Abortion is a very common procedure,” Dr. Shelly Tien of Jacksonville said, in testimony Monday before Cooper. “It’s a very safe procedure.”

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Tien, among the plaintiffs in the case, is a maternal-fetal medicine specialist who performs abortions with Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. She also travels around the country to provide abortions in regions with limited access.

In mostly party-line votes, Florida’s Republican-controlled House and Senate approved overhauling the state’s abortion law earlier this year. The legislation, HB 5, was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April.

Florida’s law has allowed abortions for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for most of the decades since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing the procedure in 1973.

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