Louisiana and Utah Trigger Laws Temporarily Blocked by Courts

Trigger Laws
Trigger Laws
Courtesy of Fibonacci Blue (Flickr CC0)

In recent weeks, two states have enacted “trigger laws” that ban abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned. These laws are a sign of things to come if the Supreme Court tips further toward a conservative majority. More and more states are also using legislative tricks to pass anti-abortion legislation without triggering legal challenges. That’s why now is the time for pro-choice advocates to redouble their efforts and remain as vocal as possible about these attempts to chip away at reproductive rights. Read on for more details about trigger laws, sneaky legislation, and new restrictions on abortion access this month.

Louisiana’s Abortion Trigger Laws Temporarily Blocked by Court

Louisiana lawmakers have enacted so-called “abortion trigger laws” that ban the procedure as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned. The trigger laws were to go into effect on August 1st, but on July 10th a federal judge issued an injunction temporarily blocking the statute, ruling that the law was likely unconstitutional. The ruling was the latest development in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Louisiana law. The lawsuit was brought by the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood. The lawsuit alleges that the trigger laws are unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment because it “impermissibly infringes on women’s fundamental right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.”

Utah’s Abortion Trigger Laws Temporarily Blocked by Court

Utah’s trigger laws banning abortion in the event of Roe’s reversal went into effect on May 15th. The trigger laws prohibit doctors from performing an abortion unless the physician can first determine if the fetus has a viable chance of survival outside the womb. If a doctor determines that the fetus has a chance of survival, they must then inform the patient of the chance that the fetus could survive outside the womb. If a fetus is determined to have a chance of survival outside the womb, then the law requires the mother to be admitted to a hospital and receive anesthesia administered by a medical doctor. The trigger laws go on to state that if a doctor performs an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the physician will be subject to a criminal penalty.

Other Sneaky Anti-abortion Laws Passed This Month

Trigger Laws
Courtesy of Little Koshka (Flickr CC0)

In addition to the trigger laws in Louisiana and Utah, there are a number of other anti-abortion efforts underway in the U.S. that don’t attempt to directly challenge Roe. This month, governors in Florida, Nevada, and Ohio signed bills that ban abortion at 20 weeks. In Florida and Nevada, the laws include exceptions for a woman’s health and an instance of sexual assault involving minors, but not for cases of incest. In Ohio, the trigger laws ban has no exceptions, which means that a woman could face a felony charge and a three-year prison sentence if she attempts to get an abortion after 20 weeks. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has said he will sign an executive order to allow abortion in the case of a fetal abnormality. In Georgia, a bill passed by the state legislature would ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy as soon as a heartbeat is detected. The Georgia bill has yet to be signed by Governor Brian Kemp.

More Restrictions on Abortion Access

On top of trigger laws and other anti-abortion efforts that don’t directly challenge Roe v. Wade, this month we’ve also seen a number of legislative efforts that do attack abortion directly. In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey signed the country’s most restrictive abortion ban, outlawing the procedure at any stage of a woman’s pregnancy. The trigger laws were temporarily blocked by a federal judge on June 18th, but the state has appealed the ruling. In Iowa, the state legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. That bill is now being considered by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. In addition, bills that would ban abortion after six weeks have been introduced in Ohio, Missouri, Oregon, and West Virginia.

This month’s legislative attempts to chip away at reproductive rights are just the latest efforts in a years-long trend. As anti-abortion lawmakers see an increasingly conservative Supreme Court, they’ve become more emboldened to pursue extreme legislation that could, in the future, overturn Roe v. Wade.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Marrissa Kay


NBC News: Louisiana and Utah trigger laws banning abortions temporarily blocked by courts; by Chloe Atkins and David K. Li
CBS News: Focus shifts to “trigger laws” and state courts in wake of Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade
Independent: Louisiana and Utah trigger law banning abortion temporarily blocked by judge; by Gustaf Killander

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Little Koshka’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Fibonacci Blue’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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