Courthouse prepares for protests ahead of a hearing on Louisiana’s abortion laws

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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Orleans Civil District Court.
Orleans Civil District Court.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Barricades are in place outside the Civil Court Building in New Orleans ahead of a crucial Friday hearing on Louisiana’s strict anti-abortion laws. Those laws were triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling which overturned federal abortion rights.

Professor Keith Werhan is a constitutional law expert at Tulane University.

“These laws are going to affect not only abortion providers per se but also physicians providing standard of care for pregnant patients,” said Werhan.

The court hearing follows a judge issuing a temporary restraining order that blocks Louisiana’s abortion laws from taking effect. The TRO came after plaintiffs in a lawsuit and argued that the abortion laws on Louisiana’s books are too vague, especially since they involve hefty penalties for violators.

Werhan believes the local court has a role to play related to that.

“When you are putting in a regime that’s providing for 10 and 15-year prison sentences the law has to be ascertainable for those who are subject to those provisions and so for a court to take time and make sure that everything is in order before that regime goes in place just sounds to me like imminent good sense,” said Wehan.

For now, the abortion clinic in New Orleans is operating as are two others in the state.

The judge during Friday’s hearing could decide to extend the TRO or make a ruling on the case.

FOX 8 asked Werhan about the odds of there being a permanent injunction against Louisiana’s abortion laws which do not provide exceptions for rape or incest.

“I don’t think that is ah, is at all likely or even remotely possible in Louisiana. The Dobbs decision has cut off federal constitutional rights for abortion access and the Louisiana constitution unlike the constitution in other states forecloses that argument as well,” said Werhan.

On Thursday afternoon, the New Orleans City Council passed a resolution calling for no city money to be used to solicit, catalog, report, or investigate reports of abortion.

Helena Moreno is president of the city council.

“We have real issues of crime. Policing women and their doctors is in no way going to be our priority,” said Moreno.

Residents showed up to speak for and against the measure.

“Criminalizing providers via these draconian laws will not stop people from getting abortions in Louisiana, what it will do is stop providers from considering Louisiana as a safe place to work,” said Michelle Erenberg of Lift Louisiana.

“Any country that accepts abortion or the city of New Orleans is not teaching its people to love but to use any violence to get what they want,” said Ray Watley.

Moreno acknowledged the resolution’s limitations.

“The resolution before us today unfortunately will not be the long-term solution to keep the New Orleans clinic open because it is a clinic regulated by the state, so that’s why we must also call for direct assistance and intervention from the federal government. We need bold actions,” she said.

Attorney General Jeff Landry sent a letter to the Louisiana Medical Society saying in part, “The temporary restraining order does not – and cannot – immunize medical providers from liability from criminal conduct.”

Read Landry’s letter:

But Werhan differs with Landry’s statement.

“The criminal conduct is embodied in laws that are subject to a temporary injunction, so, so the court is saying that those criminal laws are not yet taking effect, so those actions are not criminal until that injunction is lifted,” Werhan stated.

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