What will happen if La.’s abortion ‘trigger’ laws are ruled unconstitutional?
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Friday, a New Orleans court hearing will determine if Louisiana’s “trigger laws” banning abortion are unconstitutional.
Louisiana has more than one trigger law. The first was signed by then-Governor Kathleen Blanco in 2006, the latest was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards last month.
New Orleans Representative Mandie Landry says it does not supersede or repeal the first one.
“The penalties for doctors are different. Neither has a particularly definite triggering mechanism, the questions on the life of the mother exception are different, the recent one actually has some medically incorrect information in it,” Landry said.
The plaintiff in the suit, The Center for Reproductive Rights, says the laws are unconstitutionally vague, not only about which one is in effect but also about the medical exceptions allowing abortion to save a woman’s life.
“You can’t arrest someone for breaking a law unless they know what the law is, what the penalty is, and if the charges will stick,” Landry said.
They’re saying this violates the constitutional right to due process.
Anti-abortion group, Right to Life Louisiana, disagrees, saying this update simply makes state civil code match criminal code and that there are no content differences.
“There’s some clarification on penalties for abortion physicians, but that’s pretty much the big difference,” spokesperson Sara Zagorski said. “We believe that this is a delaying tactic. That they’re trying to delay the prohibiting of abortion and that’s what they’re trying to do and unfortunately, they’ve been successful.”
If the judge rules to keep the restraining order in place, abortions will be allowed to continue as they are right now, unless the State Supreme Court rules differently or there is a special legislative session to re-write and pass a clearer version of the law.
“The longer there’s a time lag, there’s more possibility of adding like a rape and incest exception, for example, of clarifying the life of the mother exception, and then next year passing more maternal health and infant health measures,” Landry said.
If the judge rules against the restraining order, then the ban on abortions will resume.
“We’d have to wait until there was some test cases, which is doctors getting arrested because someone said the pregnancy wasn’t dangerous enough,” Landry said.
“Our Louisiana law is very clear and I think in time those abortion physicians will have to face the criminal penalty of that,” Zagorski said.
House Speaker Republican Clay Schexnayder said he is meeting with leaders to discuss lawmakers’ options, but nothing has formally been decided.
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