Judges rule on state abortion restrictions, shape Roe’s impact

SALT LAKE CITY, AP — A Utah judge on Monday granted a request by Planned Parenthood to delay implementation of the state’s trigger law banning most abortions because the implications of reversing by the United States Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade reverberate across the country.

With the ruling, abortion remains legal for up to 18 weeks in Utah, which is among a group of states where abortion rights have been thrown into limbo amid legal and political challenges that shape the post-Roe landscape, with states now holding the power to restrict abortion. .

“What I’m really doing is saying we have serious things to discuss,” Judge Andrew Stone said after granting an injunction delaying the trigger law.

He said the status quo should remain in effect until a challenge from the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliate can be fully heard.

Meanwhile, a Minnesota judge has declared most of that state’s restrictions on abortion unconstitutional. In Michigan, a campaign generated a record number of signatures Thus, during the November ballot, voters may be asked to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.

At the federal level, the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services said Monday that hospitals “must” provide abortion services if the mother’s life is in danger, saying federal law on Urgent treatment guidelines prevail over state laws in jurisdictions that now prohibit the procedure without any exceptions. Currently, even states with the strictest abortion bans allowing exceptions when a mother’s health is at risk, although the threat of legal action has confused some doctors.

Decision Dobbs v. last month jackson overruled Roe v. Wade of 1973 which concluded that the right to abortion was protected by the American Constitution. The issue has returned to the states, sparking new court battles and ballot initiatives as many states act to reduce or ban abortions.

Utah is among more than a dozen states with trigger laws designed to limit abortion after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Monday’s decision comes two weeks after the court temporarily suspended the law, which bans most abortions except rape, incest or maternal health. Stone, who was nominated by a Republican governor, blocked his application for 14 days after the state branch of Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit. Her decision effectively extends the temporary suspension of the law and allows Planned Parenthood clinics to continue offering abortions until the case is resolved.

The Utah lawyers argued that the language of the state constitution authorized banning abortions and said delaying implementation of the trigger law would negate the will of the legislature and voters from Utah. Julie Murray, lawyer for Planned Parenthood, said failure to delay implementation of the law could expose her staff to criminal charges and hurt about 200 patients with scheduled appointments in the coming month.

Stone granted a preliminary injunction, which would allow Planned Parenthood clinics to continue providing abortion care – up to 18 weeks of pregnancy under another recently passed limit – until the court rules on constitutional issues .

Minnesota judge has declared most state restrictions on abortion unconstitutional, including a 24-hour waiting period and the obligation to inform both parents before a minor can have an abortion. Ramsey County District Judge Thomas Gilligan also struck down requirements that only doctors can perform abortions and that abortions after the first trimester must be performed in hospitals. His order took effect immediately, meaning the limits cannot be enforced.

Gender Justice and other abortion rights groups argued the restrictions were unconstitutional under a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that the state constitution protects abortion rights. . The judge called the case “significant and historic” and said she was unaffected by the recent US Supreme Court decision.

“These abortion laws violate the right to privacy because they violate the fundamental right under the Minnesota Constitution to access abortion care and do not stand up to scrutiny,” Gilligan wrote. .

The decision is expected to benefit patients from restrictive states who may travel to Minnesota for reproductive health care. Providers brace for surge in patients from neighboring states in the Upper Midwest, and even further afield.

Opponents of abortion rights condemned the decision. Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life said the laws challenged in the case are “common sense measures that support and empower pregnant women” and that their reversal prevents residents from “enacting reasonable protections for children at to be born and their mothers”. A Republican attorney general candidate has called on the Democratic attorney general to appeal.

In a Louisiana state court on Monday, legal efforts to avoid the permanent closure of the state’s three abortion clinics were renewed. A New Orleans judge last week declined to extend a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the state’s abortion ban, saying the case was up to Baton Rouge.

Lawyers for a northern Louisiana clinic and an abortion rights group are now seeking a new restraining order from a Baton Rouge judge. Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office says a temporary restraining order cannot be renewed once it has expired.

In Arizona, a federal judge on Monday blocked a 2021 “personality” law which gives full legal rights to unborn children. Abortion providers argued the law could lead to criminal charges such as assault or child abuse and said it was unconstitutionally vague. Judge Douglas Rayes agreed in his decision.

All abortions in Arizona stopped last month, but they could resume in at least one county after the ruling.

Along with lawsuits to challenge the bans, proponents of abortion rights are trying to add ballot questions to enshrine abortion rights in state constitutions.

More than 750,000 signatures were turned in by the campaign in Michigan on Monday, nearly double the number needed. Both the Democratic governor and the battleground state’s attorney general have made abortion rights a centerpiece of their re-election campaigns.

“The number of signatures showed that here in Michigan, we trust women. We trust people. We trust doctors, not politicians, to make decisions about our bodies, our pregnancies, and our lives. parenthood,” Reproductive Freedom for All spokeswoman Shanay Watson-Whittaker said at a news conference in Lansing.

Signatures still need to be verified and validated. A judge has temporarily blocked a 1931 Michigan law that would make abortion a felony except when “necessary to preserve such a woman’s life”.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the law was invalid under the due process and equal protection clauses of the state constitution. The injunction, which stems from a lawsuit for Planned Parenthood, could be revoked at any time.

Last week, supporters of a last-minute effort to enshrine the right to abortion in the Arizona Constitution failed to collect enough signatures to participate in the November ballot. In California, voters will decide in November whether to guarantee the right to abortion in their constitution. Democrats who control the government in California worry that the state’s abortion laws are vulnerable to legal challenges.


McDermott reported from Providence, Rhode Island, and Karnowski reported from St. Paul, Minnesota. Associated Press writer Kevin McGill in New Orleans and Associated Press/Report for America writer Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan contributed to this report.

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