Kentucky judge blocks abortion ban until July 6

Published 12:04 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

HEATHER CHAPMAN

Kentucky Health News

A judge has temporarily blocked Kentucky laws that ban abortion.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a restraining order Thursday morning that allows Kentucky’s two abortion clinics, both in Louisville, to resume offering the procedure, at least until Wednesday, July 6, when he will hear their arguments for a more lasting injunction against the laws.

State Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a petition with the Court of Appeals, but lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said the temporary order is not subject to appeal.

Perry’s order blocked the state “trigger law” passed to ban abortions except in cases of threat to the woman’s life upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which occurred a week earlier. He also blocked a ban on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, which is in a 2019 law that a federal judge has blocked.

“Kentucky becomes at least the fifth state where a judge has temporarily blocked a state law banning or strictly limiting abortion under a strategy abortion rights advocates are using to challenge such laws based on state constitutional claims,” reports Deborah Yetter of the Courier Journal. “EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood, the state’s only two abortion providers, have begun taking appointments at their Louisville locations.”

The Kentucky lawsuit is based on the untested legal theory that the state constitution grants a right to privacy that the laws violate. Cameron told Perry Wednesday, “There is no textual, precedential, or historical support for the argument that there is a right to abortion embedded within the Kentucky Constitution.” He said a ruling supporting the argument “would be directly contradictory to the historical precedent in the commonwealth and to the will of the people as expressed through their duly elected representatives.”

The General Assembly has placed on the Nov. 8 ballot a constitutional amendment saying that the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion or government funding of abortions.

Gov. Andy Beshear, asked what he would do to defeat the amendment, didn’t respond directly but said he would “lend my voice to the overwhelming view of Kentuckians” that abortion bans should have exceptions for cases of rape and incest.

“The law as we had it before [the Supreme Court’s decision] is the type of balance we ought to be looking for,” he said at his regular Thursday afternoon press conference. He also said the trigger law may pose an obstacle to the process of in-vitro fertilization.