Federal judge rules Louisiana cannot enforce abortion law during appeal News
Federal judge rules Louisiana cannot enforce abortion law during appeal

A federal judge ruled [order, PDF] Tuesday that the state of Louisiana cannot enforce an abortion law while the state is appealing a pretrial order against it. US District Judge John deGravelles ruled [JURIST report] in January that part of an abortion law requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who provide abortions is unconstitutional. Section A(2)(a) of Act 620 [text, PDF] mandates that a doctor have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of where an abortion is being performed. DeGravelles, who ruled [AP report] in this matter as well, stated that Louisiana’s chance of ultimately winning the suit is too low compared with the harm of enforcement. The state has asked the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to act on this matter by February 26, stating, “deGravelles’ ruling ‘flatly’ goes against 5th Circuit rulings in two cases that upheld an identical Texas law.”

Abortion procedures and reproductive rights issues [JURIST backgrounder] have been heated topics throughout the US. In November the US Supreme Court agreed to decide [JURIST report] whether a similar Texas law passed in 2013 imposes an undue burden on the availability of abortion services in the state. Specifically, the court will review the constitutionality of two restrictions [SCOTUSblog report] on abortion clinics under HB 2: one requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors performing abortions and a second requiring abortion clinics to have the same facilities as a surgical center. It is estimated that 32 clinics would close if the legislation is fully implemented, leaving Texas with 10 abortion clinics. In June the Supreme Court granted a motion to stay [JURIST report] and temporarily blocked provisions of HB 2 from taking effect. The court will likely rule in this case by the end of June.