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Federal judge temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion law

[JURIST] A federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked [text, PDF] the enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law [HB 388, text], which was scheduled to take effect on Monday. The measure requires doctors who perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, allowing for clinics to be closed when doctors do not comply. Judge John W. deGravelles [official profile] of the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana[official website], who issued the temporary restraining order, said [New York Times report] that while the law can still take effect Monday, doctors or clinics cannot be penalized for breaking it. The measure, according to activists, would likely have closed [Reuters report] all five of the state's abortion clinics. The temporary restraining order will remain in place [Wall Street Journal report] until a hearing can be held to decide whether a preliminary restraining order should be imposed while three of Louisiana's abortion clinics sue to overturn [JURIST report] the law.

Reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] continue to be a hot-button legal issue throughout the US, with a number of states proposing laws to limit abortions. In August Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood [official website] filed an appeal asking the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] to reverse a July ruling [JURIST report] that a 2012 state law requiring abortion clinic doctors to obtain hospital admitting privileges is unconstitutional. Also in August the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Northern Division [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Alabama's recently enacted [JURIST op-ed] requirement [HB 57] that all doctors who provide abortions must have staff privileges to perform designated procedures at a local hospital is unconstitutional. In April West Virginia's governor vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks after conception. Also in April the Fifth Circuit upheld [JURIST report] a Texas law similar to the one enacted in Alabama that requires physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. In March the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Kansas legislature can withhold federal funding for two Planned Parenthood clinics.

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