LAFAYETTE, La. — A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, judge has temporarily blocked Louisiana’s trigger law outlawing abortion, pausing the total ban on the medical procedure and opening the door for the state’s three abortion clinics to reopen.

It’s the second time a temporary restraining order has blocked the enforcement of the law. The first one expired Friday when a New Orleans judge ruled the lawsuit challenging the ban must play out in 19th District Court.

Judge Ethel Julien temporarily blocked Louisiana’s abortion ban from taking effect three days after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The suit was sent to Baton Rouge after another judge said state law required that it be heard in the capital.

Judge Don Johnson, who issued the new temporary restraining order late Tuesday, has set a Monday hearing for both sides to argue whether the injunction should remain in place.

Kathaleen Pittman, director of the north Louisiana clinic that was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, expressed relief in a phone interview. Pittman said the Hope Medical Group for Women clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, is ready to resume counseling and abortions. Louisiana’s two other clinics are in the capital, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans.

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State Attorney General Jeff Landry called the ruling a “legal circus” and disappointing” on Twitter.

Louisiana’s 2006 trigger law, updated by Democratic Monroe Sen. Katrina Jackson’s bill this summer, was designed to take effect immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing legal abortions.

But Shreveport’s Hope Medical Group for Women filed a lawsuit asking to block the trigger law, arguing its “vague” language makes it impossible to tell whether any of the laws are in effect, which ones are in effect, and what would be prohibited.

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Louisiana’s trigger law outlaws virtually all abortions with an exception for saving the life of the mother, but no exceptions for rape or incest. And while it allows for “medically futile” pregnancies, in cases of fetuses with fatal abnormalities, the plaintiffs argue the law doesn’t give a definition of the term and that health officials haven’t provided a list of conditions that would qualify.

It carries criminal penalties of up to 15 years for doctors who perform abortions but exempts pregnant women from prosecution.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Greg Hilburn on Twitter @GregHilburn1.

 

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