Tue, 26 Sep 2023

U.S. in "national battle" over abortion rights

28 Jun 2022, 22:55 GMT+10

Robin Giarrusso, an Orleans Parish civil district court judge, on Monday issued a temporary restraining order blocking Louisiana, one of 13 states which passed "trigger laws" to ban or severely restrict abortions once the supreme court overturned the 1973 ruling.

The plaintiffs in the suit there do not deny that the state can ban abortion. Instead, they contend Louisiana has multiple and conflicting trigger mechanisms in law, according to local media reports. A hearing to decide whether to further block enforcement of the ban has been scheduled on July 8.

In a lawsuit filed on Monday in Houston on behalf of several health care providers, the American Civil Liberties Union accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of illegally threatening abortion providers before relative state laws take effect.

Local media outlet KXAN reported that the lawsuit asked a state court to temporarily block Texas' pre-Roe laws on the books, which Paxton said are now enforceable after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

"Mr. Paxton's and the Texas Legislature's attempts to greenlight the immediate prosecution of abortion providers based on violations of the Pre-Roe Ban must not stand," the lawsuit said.

Texas law banning most abortions will not take effect for approximately two months or longer since the trigger ban is scheduled to take effect 30 days after issuance of the judgment from the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, according to local media reports. The Supreme Court has only so far issued its opinion.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed an executive order aimed to protect women seeking abortions and providers of the service in the southwestern U.S. state.

"We will not further imperil the rights and access points of anyone in New Mexico," the Democratic governor said at a news conference, "Residents seeking access will be protected, providers will be protected, and abortion is and will continue to be legal safe and accessible, period."

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Also on Monday, attorneys generals in 21 states and Washington, D.C. issued a joint statement promising to "leverage our collective resources" to help women in states where abortions are banned.

"Abortion care is healthcare. Period," announced the statement, which was signed by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

"While the U.S. supreme court's decision reverses nearly half a century of legal precedent and undermines the rights of people across the United States, we're joining together to reaffirm our commitment to supporting and expanding access to abortion care nationwide," they said in the statement.

Over the weekend, a branch of Planned Parenthood sued in Utah over a trigger ban while the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and an abortion-rights group filed an emergency motion in Arizona in a bid to block a state law they worry can be used to halt all abortions.

Abortion rights advocates in Ohio also plan to challenge a ban on abortions after six weeks, which took effect on Friday, said local media, noting that a Florida ban on abortions after 15 weeks is also the subject of a request for a temporary block.

As of Saturday, abortion providers had reportedly stopped services in at least 11 states. The United States was in a "national battle," New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham told a news conference on Monday.

Though the latest 6-3 ruling does not outlaw abortion but leaves the decision to states, 26 states are "certain or likely to ban abortion," while 16 states, including New York State, provide protection for abortion rights in law or in their constitutions, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade also drew criticism from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who described the decision as "a huge blow to women's human rights and gender equality," and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said "the news coming out of the United States is horrific."

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