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A judge has decided that a federal agency cannot enforce an abortion rule in Louisiana and Mississippi

The emblem of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Via Ben Smith/Shutterstock)

A federal judge on Monday granted temporary relief to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and employers in two Southern states from a federal rule. The rule would have mandated them to provide employees with time off and other workplace accommodations for abortions.

Judge David Joseph issued a preliminary injunction in two combined lawsuits. One was filed by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Mississippi, and the other involved the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic University, and two Catholic dioceses.

These lawsuits contested regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in April. The rules, under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed in December 2022, include abortions among pregnancy-related conditions covered.

The U.S. Supreme Court (Via Ben Kane/Shutterstock)

The EEOC rules were set to take effect on Tuesday. Judge Joseph, appointed by former President Donald Trump, prohibited the EEOC from enforcing the abortion provision against the Catholic plaintiffs and employers in Louisiana and Mississippi while the legal cases continue.

This decision follows a recent ruling in Arkansas where a federal judge dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by 17 states, led by Arkansas and Tennessee. The judge in Arkansas found that the states lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.

Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill called the ruling a partial victory, as it granted relief but fell short of a broader emergency injunction sought to halt the entire implementation of the EEOC rules nationwide. Civil rights and women’s advocacy groups had expressed concerns, emphasizing the importance of these rules in effectively implementing the law.

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