Georgia’s six-week abortion ban will remain in effect as a court challenge against it moves forward, a state judge ruled Monday, as abortion providers file a string of lawsuits aiming to halt state-level bans that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Georgia: A state Superior Court judge declined to block the state’s six-week abortion ban Monday while the litigation against it proceeds, rejecting a request from abortion providers and advocates who sued to overturn the law after a federal judge allowed it to take effect in July.
Idaho: The Idaho Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state’s trigger law outlawing nearly all abortions can take effect August 25 as abortion providers’ litigation against it moves forward, and also allowed a six-week ban to take effect immediately, which is modeled after Texas’ six-week abortion ban and allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion in the state.
Wyoming: A state judge issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking the state’s trigger law, which banned all abortions in the state with exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies, after previously pausing the law for just two weeks, siding with abortion providers who argued the law was overly vague and ruling it “lacks any guidance” for providers who are unsure if a patient they have can legally get an abortion.
Kentucky: A state judge issued a restraining order on June 30 that blocked both the state’s total ban on abortion and a separate ban on the procedure after approximately six weeks, and though a court first extended the block on July 22, an appeals court then ruled on August 1 that the ban can take effect again as the challenge moves forward.
Louisiana: The state was the first to have its abortion trigger law blocked in court on June 27 and the law has gone in and out of effect since; it briefly went back into effect on July 8 before being blocked again, and an appeals court then ruled on Friday the law will once again be enforced while the state appeals the court’s ruling (though it’s unclear when exactly the order will be signed that formally puts it back into effect).
North Dakota: A state judge issued a temporary restraining order after Red River Women’s Clinic, the state’s only abortion clinic, argued state Attorney General Drew Wrigley (R) attempted to institute an abortion ban earlier than allowed under the state’s trigger law.
South Carolina: A state judge ruled Tuesday that the state’s six-week abortion ban can stay in effect, denying a request from providers to block it, after the abortion law—which had previously been blocked in court—took effect following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
West Virginia: A state judge blocked the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban on July 18 as the litigation against it moves forward, as the judge sided with abortion providers who argued the 19th century law conflicted with the state’s more recent abortion measures—though lawmakers are now trying to pass a new ban in case the pre-Roe law remains blocked.
Utah: The state’s trigger law was blocked on June 27 after taking effect hours after the Supreme Court’s ruling, as abortion providers argued the law violated the state Constitution, and a judge ruled on July 11 that it should remain blocked as the case moves forward.
Mississippi: State Judge Debbra K. Halford denied a request on July 5 to block both the state’s trigger law banning all abortions and a six-week abortion ban, ruling she didn’t believe the abortion providers’ lawsuit would ultimately succeed and they hadn’t sufficiently shown the bans cause them “irreparable harm,” and the abortion clinic that brought the lawsuit dropped their challenge because the clinic has closed.
Ohio: The state Supreme Court on July 1 rejected a request by abortion providers to block the state’s six-week abortion ban as a lawsuit against it moved forward, after courts let the six-week ban take effect hours after Roe v. Wade was overturned June 24.
Texas: A state judge issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban from staying in effect on June 28—allowing abortions to at least temporarily resume until Texas’ trigger ban takes effect later in July—but the Texas Supreme Court then overruled that order on July 1, once again banning abortion in the state.
What To Watch For
More state court rulings and lawsuits. Abortion providers and Democratic politicians have also filed lawsuits against abortion bans in Wisconsin and Oklahoma that have taken effect or are scheduled to take effect in the absence of Roe, and those challenges remain pending. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has also asked a state court to put a six-week ban back in effect, teeing up a legal battle over that law, and the Biden administration is suing to block Idaho’s abortion law in federal court, at least as it relates to barring abortions in the case of medical emergencies. Leaders at the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which have been largely behind the abortion ban lawsuits, told reporters on July 1 they intend to file additional litigation.
“Every additional day, every additional hour that we can block a ban is making a huge difference for the patients in the waiting room,” Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told reporters on July 1, saying providers’ immediate priority is to preserve abortion access in states “for as long as we can.”
While state courts are increasingly blocking abortion bans, federal courts are allowing other states’ bans to take effect. In addition to Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina, judges in Tennessee, Indiana and Alabama have so far allowed state-level bans and restrictions on the procedure to be reinstated, after previously blocking them when Roe was still the law of the land and abortion was legal on the federal level.
A state judge in Florida briefly blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban, which was enacted and challenged in court prior to the Supreme Court’s decision. The law took effect on July 1 until Leon County Judge John Cooper’s written order was issued on July 5, even though Cooper had said during a hearing June 30 he intended to block the law. Cooper’s order was only in effect for a few minutes, however, as the Florida government immediately appealed the decision, which automatically freezed Cooper’s order until another decision can be issued on whether or not it should be put back in effect. That means the 15-week ban is still in effect for now. Florida Republicans passed the law despite the fact the Florida Supreme Court has upheld abortion rights in the state constitution, and abortion rights advocates fear the state court will overturn that precedent and give the state license to ban abortion.
State officials whose laws are being challenged have stood by their abortion bans. “We are fully prepared to defend these laws in our state courts, just as we have in our federal courts,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement Monday, accusing the abortion providers of using “scare tactics,” and Utah AG Sean Reyes told the Salt Lake Tribune before the state’s abortion law was blocked that his office “will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges.”
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, giving states license to fully ban the procedure as justices declared the landmark 1973 decision “egregiously wrong.” The court’s ruling triggered 13 states’ abortion bans, and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute projects 26 states will ultimately ban or severely restrict the procedure. While abortion is now able to be outlawed under federal law, abortion providers’ focus is to now target the bans in state courts, arguing that even if the U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect abortion rights, they are still protected under state Constitutions and thus can’t be banned despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
While most state lawsuits have argued the abortion trigger bans violate state constitutions and the civil rights they provide for, Louisiana abortion providers had to instead only argue the state’s laws are unlawfully vague because they can’t make other arguments under the state constitution. Louisiana voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 stating, “Nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion”—one of four states whose constitutions explicitly do not protect abortion rights, along with Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Supreme Court’s abortion ruling sets off new court fights (Associated Press)
Life Sciences, Forbes – Healthcare