Abortions Could Still Be Performed in New Orleans on Federally Owned Land

Pro-Choice Rally and Press Conference Chicago Illinois 3-4-20_5592” by www.cemillerphotography.com is marked with CC PDM 1.0.

Despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows state governments the right to determine a woman’s access to safe and legal abortions, Louisiana women may still have an opportunity to receive the procedure in an approved health care setting. City Council President Helena Moreno tweeted recently that “solutions for #roevwadeoverturned include providing services on federal land because it is exempt from state law.” Moreno went on to say that “the federal government according to assessor records owns a good amount of property in New Orleans.” 

Devin Johnson, a spokesperson for Assessor Erroll Williams, said that there are in excess of 200 federally owned parcels including vacant land in Algiers’ Federal City, the area surrounding Jackson Barracks in the lower ninth ward and numerous properties without municipal addresses along the Intracoastal Waterway. Other cities and states could also utilize federally owned properties for the same purpose.    

In addition, Judge Robin Giarrusso issued a temporary restraining order on Monday June 27, which prohibits the State of Louisiana from implementing its trigger legislation first passed in 2016 by Louisiana’s Republican-controlled legislature. Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed a new law further restricting abortions. Louisiana is one of 13 states that had enacted trigger legislation in anticipation of the court’s landmark decision which repealed the constitutional right to abortion.  

The law suit Giarrusso ruled on today was brought on behalf of Medical Students for Choice and June Medical Services Group which operates the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, one of three abortion clinics in Louisiana. Abortions have been available in New Orleans at the Women’s Health Care Center. The state’s three clinics initially closed last Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision. Clinics in more than 10 other states have also closed.  

The Louisiana suit was filed against Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Louisiana Department of Health by the New York based legal non-profit Center for Reproductive Rights along with local plaintiff attorney Ellie Schilling of the Schonekas, Evans, McGoey & McEachin firm. Similar legislation has also been filed in several other states including Utah, Florida, and Arizona. Attorney generals in states where abortions remain legal including California, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina and Massachusetts issued a statement today likening abortion care to health care. The attorney generals also pledged to support and expand access to abortion care nationwide. New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams has said repeatedly that he does not plan to prosecute women who seek abortions. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is determined to enforce the law.

The fate of legal abortions in Louisiana now lies in the hands of Judge Ethel Simms Julien who is currently scheduled to hear the injunction on July 9th. Regardless of the outcome on the July 9th hearing, the case could be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

“Today’s ruling by Judge Giarrusso gives patients in Louisiana who were scheduled for abortion care this week a brief reprieve to obtain that care. We are grateful for the lawyers and advocates who will never give up,” said State Representative Mandie Landry.

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