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Louisiana abortion ban to soon take effect after court grants AG Jeff Landry's appeal

pro-abortion rights march new orleans signs crowd
Halle Parker
Pro-abortion rights protesters carried a wide range of signs during a rally on Friday, June 24, 2022. Some had images of uteruses, others compared the country's handling woman's rights and gun rights, while others depicted coat hangers — tools that were once used to perform dangerous, illegal abortions.

A Louisiana appeals court has ruled the state’s near-total abortion ban can take effect — but the decision still requires a formal order from a lower court judge for the law to be enforced.

The ruling adds yet another round of instability to the legal landscape of abortion access as abortion providers fight to stay open in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case.

Some news outlets were inaccurately reporting Friday afternoon that the trigger laws outlawing most abortions took immediate effect, adding to the confusion.

A three-judge panel on the First Circuit Court of Appeals granted a suspensive appeal filed by Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Louisiana Department of Health.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport and Medical Students for Choice, stressed that 19th Judicial District Court Judge Donald Johnson must sign an order granting the suspensive appeal for the trigger bans to actually take effect.

When he does, it will stay a preliminary injunction against the law that Judge Johnson granted only last week and mark the third time most abortions are banned in Louisiana.

Louisiana Right to Life, which helped draft the state’s near-total abortion ban, was “thankful” for the appeals court decision, communications director Sarah Zagorski said in a statement.

“Everyday our laws are blocked, unborn babies in Louisiana die in abortions," she said.

The First Circuit panel did not allow the plaintiffs’ lawyers to oppose the appeal before making its decision, lawyers for the plaintiffs said, adding that the panel did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit itself or the merits of the preliminary injunction.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.