Louisiana abortion ban is back in place in back and forth legal battle over trigger law
Louisiana's near total abortion ban was reinstated Friday afternoon for the third time as the back-and-forth legal battle over the state's trigger law outlawing the procedure continues.
The state's 1st Circuit Court of Appeal granted Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry's request to lift a lower court injunction against enforcement of the abortion ban while the state appeals 19th Judicial Judge Don Johnson's ruling.
That means Louisiana's three abortion clinics in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport will cease operating when Johnson signs the order issued by the three-judge appeals court panel.
The three judges who granted Landry's motion for the "suspensive appeal" are Republicans Michael McDonald, Mitchell R. Theriot and Wayne Ray Chutz.
Louisiana's 2006 trigger law, updated by Democratic Monroe Sen. Katrina Jackson's bill this summer, was designed to take effect immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing legal abortions.
It outlaws virtually all abortions with an exception for saving the life of the mother, but no exceptions for rape or incest.
Louisiana's updated trigger law carries criminal penalties of up to 15 years for doctors who perform abortions but exempts pregnant women from prosecution.
Attorneys representing Hope Medical Group in Shreveport, where the bulk of the state's surgical abortions take place, have filed a lawsuit arguing the state's trigger law is unconstitutionally vague, meaning "ordinary citizens" can't understand the law and its exceptions.
Joanna Wright, an attorney representing Hope, also said doctors don't understand the law, putting patients in danger from physicians who hesitate to provide life-saving care for fear of being prosecuted.
But Attorney John Balhoff, who works for the attorney general, dismissed arguments that the law is unclear, saying the trigger law "goes to extraordinary lengths to define the terms."
Balhoff said the law gives doctors the bandwidth to make decisions using "reasonable medical judgment."
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.