Abortion is now allowed again in West Virginia, at least temporarily, after a state judge blocked on Monday a 19th century-era abortion ban that went back into effect last month, as abortion providers file a string of lawsuits aiming to halt state-level bans that went into effect following the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
West Virginia: A state judge blocked the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban on Monday as the litigation against it moves forward, after officials started enforcing the law again following the Supreme Court’s ruling, as the judge sided with abortion providers who argued the 19th century law conflicted with the state’s more recent abortion measures.
Louisiana: The state was the first to have its abortion trigger law blocked in court on June 27, and though the law briefly went back into effect after a New Orleans judge threw out the court’s order on July 8, saying the lawsuit should have been filed in the state capital of Baton Rouge—it is now blocked again while the Baton Rouge judge determines whether to issue a preliminary injunction.
Utah: The state’s trigger law was blocked on June 27 after taking effect hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling, as abortion providers argued the law violated the state Constitution, and a judge ruled on Monday that it should remain blocked as the case moves forward.
Mississippi: State Judge Debbra K. Halford denied a request on July 5 to block both the state’s trigger law banning all abortions and a six-week abortion ban, ruling she didn’t believe the abortion providers’ lawsuit would ultimately succeed and they hadn’t sufficiently shown the bans cause them “irreparable harm.”
Ohio: The state Supreme Court on July 1 rejected a request by abortion providers to block the state’s six-week abortion ban as a lawsuit against it moved forward, after courts let the six-week ban take effect hours after Roe v. Wade was overturned June 24.
Kentucky: A state judge issued a restraining order on June 30 that blocks both the state’s total ban on abortion and a separate ban on the procedure after approximately six weeks, and a court denied State Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request to reinstate the ban.
Texas: A state judge issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban from staying in effect on June 28—allowing abortions to at least temporarily resume until Texas’ trigger ban takes effect later in July—but the Texas Supreme Court then overruled that order on July 1, once again banning abortion in the state.
What To Watch For
More state court rulings and lawsuits. Abortion providers and Democratic politicians have also filed lawsuits against abortion bans in Idaho, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Carolina and Oklahoma that have taken effect or are scheduled to take effect in the absence of Roe, and those challenges remain pending. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has also asked that state's Supreme Court to put a six-week ban back in effect, teeing up a legal battle over that law. Leaders at the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which have been largely behind the abortion ban lawsuits, told reporters on July 1 they intend to file additional litigation.
“Every additional day, every additional hour that we can block a ban is making a huge difference for the patients in the waiting room,” Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told reporters on July 1, saying providers' immediate priority is to preserve abortion access in states "for as long as we can."
While state courts are increasingly blocking abortion bans, federal courts are allowing other states' bans to take effect. In addition to Ohiojudges in South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana and Alabama have so far allowed state-level bans and restrictions on the procedure to be reinstated, after previously blocking them when Roe was still the law of the land and abortion was legal at the federal level. Officials in Georgia have also asked a federal court to reinstate that state's six-week ban.
A state judge in Florida briefly blocked the state's 15-week abortion ban, which was enacted and challenged in court prior to the Supreme Court's decision. The law took effect Friday until Leon County Judge John Cooper's written order was issued on Tuesday, even though Cooper had said during a hearing Thursday he intended to block the law. Cooper's order was only in effect for a few minutes, however, as the Florida government immediately appealed the decision, which automatically freezed Cooper's order until another decision can be issued on whether or not it should be put back in effect. That means the 15-week ban is still in effect for now. Florida Republicans passed the law despite the fact the Florida Supreme Court has upheld abortion rights in the state constitution, and abortion rights advocates fear the state court will overturn that precedent and give the state license to ban abortion.
State officials whose laws are being challenged have stood by their abortion bans. “We are fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement Monday, accusing the abortion providers of using “scare tactics,” and Utah AG Sean Reyes told the Salt Lake Tribune Monday before the abortion law was blocked that his office “will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges.”
The US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, giving states license to fully ban the procedure as justices declared the landmark 1973 decision "egregiously wrong." The court's ruling triggered 13 states' abortion bans—many of which have now taken effect, though some won't for a few weeks after the decision—and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute projects 26 states will ultimately ban or severely restrict the procedure. While abortion is now able to be outlawed under federal law, abortion providers' focus is to now target the bans in state courts, arguing that even if the US Constitution doesn't protect abortion rights, they are still protected under state Constitutions and thus can 't be banned despite the US Supreme Court's ruling.
While most state lawsuits have argued the abortion trigger bans violate state constitutions and the civil rights they provide for, Louisiana abortion providers had to instead only argue the state's laws are unlawfully vague because they can't make other arguments under the state constitution. Louisiana voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 stating, “Nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion”—one of four states whose constitutions explicitly do not protect abortion rights, along with Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Roe V. Wade Overturned: Here's When States Will Start Banning Abortion—And Which Already Have (Forbes)
Abortions Can Resume In Louisiana—At Least For Now—As Trigger Bans Blocked In State Court (Forbes)
Supreme Court's abortion ruling sets off new court fights (Associated Press)
Credit: www.forbes.com /