The decision by the United States Supreme Court on Friday to end constitutional protections for abortion opened the doors for a wave of litigation, as one side sought quickly to put statewide bans into effect and the other side tried to stop or at least delay such measures.
On Monday, judges in Louisiana and Utah temporarily blocked abortion bans, while a federal court in South Carolina said a law restricting the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy would take immediate effect there. This came as the fight over the overturning of Roe v. Wade shifted from the Supreme Court of the United States to courthouses across the country.
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The majority of the judicial activism that took place on Monday was on trigger laws. These laws were passed in 13 states and were designed to go into effect as soon as possible following the verdict handed down by the Supreme Court last week. Old anti-abortion laws that are still on the books in some states despite Roe v. Wade’s decision to preempt their enforcement could be the object of additional lawsuits. Newer abortion restrictions that were placed on hold until the Supreme Court verdict are also coming back into play.
The Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision Lead to Further Legal Battles
A judge in Utah has temporarily prevented the state’s nearly complete prohibition on abortion from going into effect. The judge did this to give the court sufficient time to consider challenges to the state’s trigger statute. Planned Parenthood had filed a challenge against the law, which only allows for limited exemptions in the cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother, arguing that the law breaches the equal protection and privacy rights found in the state constitution.
Utah Judge Andrew Stone was quoted as saying, “I think the immediate impacts that will occur more than outweigh any policy interest of the state in stopping abortions.” A judge in New Orleans, Louisiana, a liberal city in a conservative state, temporarily blocked the implementation of that state’s trigger-law restriction on abortion after abortion rights campaigners argued that it is unclear. The state of Louisiana has a prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The decision will remain in effect until the hearing on July 8.
Jeff Landry, the Republican attorney general of Louisiana and a vehement opponent of abortion has vowed to challenge the verdict made by the judge and uphold the statute. ” We would want to use this opportunity to remind everyone that the laws that are currently in effect were approved by the people of California in the form of amendments to the state constitution and statutes passed by the California legislature.”
Also on Monday, advocates for abortion rights asked a judge in Florida to block a new law that bans the procedure after 15 weeks with some exceptions to save a mother’s life or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality, but with no exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida argues that the statute is unconstitutional and should be overturned. A decision regarding this matter is anticipated to be handed down on Thursday, a day before the law is slated to go into force.
The decision of whether or not to legalize abortion was left up to the individual states by the Supreme Court in their decision handed down on Friday. It is anticipated that this will result in years of challenges before both the legislature and the courts.
As of this past Saturday, abortion services had been halted in at least 11 states, most likely due to state legislation or uncertainty over those laws. In such instances, the litigation may serve to do nothing more than purchase time.
BREAKING: The Supreme Court has officially overturned Roe v. Wade in a seismic ruling ending the right to abortion upheld for nearly half a century. pic.twitter.com/wBetRhdEOA
— NPR (@NPR) June 24, 2022
It’s highly likely that this will be the situation in Louisiana. The plaintiffs in the complaint that was brought before the state court do not dispute the fact that the state can now place restrictions on abortion. Instead, they argue that the law in Louisiana now contains many trigger systems that are in conflict with one another. In addition, they contend that the state statute is ambiguous regarding whether or not it prohibits having an abortion before a fertilized egg has implanted itself in the uterus.
Challenges to trigger legislation could be filed on the basis that the conditions to impose the bans have not been reached, or that it was unlawful for a previous legislature to bind the present one. Both of these arguments are potential grounds for a successful challenge. According to James Bopp Jr., who serves as the general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, it should not come as a surprise that abortion rights proponents have filed a surge of lawsuits. According to what Bopp stated in an interview, “we know that the abortion industry has practically unlimited cash, and its sympathizers have basically unlimited funds,” and of course, all of these people are obsessive about having abortions on demand at any time during pregnancy.
On the other hand, he stated that the decision of the Supreme Court should make it impossible for advocates of abortion rights to win any federal challenges. In addition, he referred to the initiatives that were based on state constitutions as being ridiculous.”
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