SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Abortion services have stopped Shreveport‘s lone abortion clinic after a judge on Friday lifted a temporary block on the state’s abortion trigger laws.
There were no signs of activity outside outside the Hope Medical Group for Women on King’s Highway, where the clinic had continued providing abortions until Friday’s ruling.
The administrator of the clinic told The Associated Press that clinic staff were canceling all abortion appointments scheduled for Saturday. Kathaleen Pittman said no procedures or consultations had been scheduled for Friday. She said the clinic would continue to schedule appointments for women to receive ultrasounds and counseling next week.
“It’s upsetting. It’s very difficult. It’s a very difficult day indeed,” Pittman said.
The Orleans Parish District Court granted the temporary restraining order (TRO) last week pending Friday’s hearing in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of June Medical Services, which operates an abortion clinic in Shreveport. The suit challenges the abortion laws that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, leaving the decision up to states on whether to ban abortions.
In the original request for the TRO, CRR called the trigger laws “unconstitutionally vague.”
The state’s attorney general appealed directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court but on Wednesday the court declined to immediately intervene, leaving the abortion ban on hold. On Friday, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Ethel Simms Julien ruled the court challenge to the state’s trigger law must take place in East Baton Rouge Parish, not New Orleans.
The judge also chose to not extend the block that was allowing Louisiana’s abortion clinics to remain open. The state’s 3 abortion clinics must now close their doors until the case can be heard in Baton Rouge.
In a statement, the Center for Reproductive Rights said it plans to ask the new court in Baton Rouge to once again block the bans as soon as possible.
“Today’s ruling was on a technicality, and did not touch the merits of this case,” said CRR Senior Staff Attorney Jenny Ma. “I am personally devastated for patients in Louisiana who are now panicking trying to figure out how to get care. But to be clear, this case is by no means over. We’re just starting the legal battle to get the ban blocked again. Since Roe fell last month, abortion services have ceased in nine other states, and that number is continuing to grow. With every state that bans abortion, the distance patients in the south have to travel grows exponentially. So losing access in Louisiana, even for a day, is contributing to a growing health crisis not only for people in Louisiana but across the south.”
Meanwhile, the state’s attorney general called the ruling a win.
“I think today’s judge got it right,” said Landry in a video posted to his office’s Facebook page. “These folks have been venue shopping … This action will be brought into Baton Rouge. We certainly intend to continue to defend the laws of the state and to enforce these laws. … A law is always presumed to be constitutional until a court rules otherwise.”