Judge lifts injunction against law banning abortion in Ky. after 15 weeks; only clinic doing later abortions had suspended them

“A Kentucky law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy may now be enforced while a legal challenge continues to a state law banning all abortions in the state,” Deborah Yetter of The Courier Journal reports. “For now, abortions remain legal in Kentucky for patients with pregnancies under 15 weeks, under a different court ruling.”

The 15-week rule is part of a broad anti-abortion bill the Kentucky General Assembly passed this year. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings had blocked that part of the bill, but she said in an order Thursday there was no reason to continue that because the U.S. Supreme Court has returned abortion policy to the states with its June 24 overturn of its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Jennings noted that neither of the state’s two abortion clinics objected to its reinstatement. Yetter notes, “Planned Parenthood provides abortions only through 14 weeks of pregnancy,” and EMW Women’s Surgical Center “had suspended providing abortions beyond 15 weeks as a precaution” following the June 24 decision.
An earlier state law banned abortions after 22 weeks, the approximate limit of the right to an abortion created by the 1973 decision, based on the ability of a fetus to survive outside the womb.

Other parts of the 2022 law, passed in House Bill 3, “including heavy regulation of medication to induce abortions, new restrictions for girls under 18 seeking abortions and extensive new reporting requirements for physicians who provide abortions services,” remain blocked by the injunction, Yetter notes.

“Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which represents EMW, said the additional requirements of HB 3 are so complex and far-reaching that state officials and health providers haven’t had sufficient time to develop new forms and procedures required under the law,” Yetter writes. “Jennings said she will reserve ruling on whether to allow the rest of HB 3 to be enforced until the lawyers for all sides can provide more information.”

HB 3 also included a provision, triggered by the June 24 decision, to ban abortions in Kentucky except in cases where the woman faces the possibility of death or a disabling injury. That has been blocked by an injunction from Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry, in a lawsuit by the abortion clinics that cites privacy rights created by the Kentucky Constitution.

Perry has given the parties until Monday, July 18, to file their written arguments and has said he will rule “as soon as possible.” State Attorney General Daniel Cameron is defending the law.
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