Federal Judge Suspends New Kentucky Abortion Law

A federal judge in Louisville halted a proposed Kentucky abortion law on Thursday, according to the Washington Post. The federal court issued an interim ruling that blocks a radical new abortions law recently passed in the Kentucky legislature that would have virtually stopped all abortions in the state. The judge's decision allows two clinics to resume carrying out the procedure.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings in Louisville accepted the request from Planned Parenthood, one of the abortion clinics, to receive “urgent” relief. Both clinics are scheduled to reopen next week. This comes just a month after the State Senate defeated Democrat Governor Andy Beshear's veto of the law, which aims to prohibit abortions at 15 weeks gestation. It was signed into law on April 13.

The Louisville Courier-Journal shared details regarding the provisions of the law that would limit abortion. According to the Courier-Journal, in addition to its numerous restrictions on abortions, HB 3 outlaws sending medication via mail to terminate an embryo, even if it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bill also requires that the State Cabinet for Health and Family Services develop a brand new, comprehensive system for certifying, registering, and supervising anyone who makes and ships the medication. The Cabinet will enforce the rules to produce and distribute the medicine. The law also requires the state to set up an online portal with the addresses and names of those who provide abortion medications. People can file complaints without revealing their identities if they want to. Cabinet members would be required to look into any complaints.

HB 3 also prohibits abortion within 15 weeks of the beginning of the pregnancy. The current Kentucky law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks and imposes limitations on the abortion process for girls younger than 18, including seeking approval from a judge under certain situations. It also requires that the fetal remains be disposed of by either burial or cremation.

According to the Washington Examiner, U.S. District Judge Jennings, appointed by former President Donald Trump, pointed to the “enforceability of the provisions” instead of deciding whether the law has constitutional merit. A monitoring system to keep track of the production and prescribing of abortifacients doesn't yet exist, which means that abortion clinics aren't in legal compliance. Jennings cited this as a reason behind her decision to prevent the law from coming into effect. “The Court does not consider at this stage the constitutionality of the substance of the requirements in HB 3, but merely the enforceability of the provisions based on the impossibility of compliance,” Jennings wrote.

The Courier-Journal included one argument from the state's other clinic (the Bluegrass state currently has only two clinics) in the state court case. Lawyers representing the EMW Women's Surgery Center stated that the law's enactment could “force patients to remain pregnant against their will” and will negatively affect their mental, physical, and emotional health.

The reason these facilities have decided to stop performing abortions is due to the fact that they aren't able to or won't follow the law. It has been noted that the EMW Women's Surgery Center is represented by the ACLU of Kentucky.

The Kentucky law is currently in limbo. As a result of the United States Supreme Court agreeing to hear oral arguments in December regarding the legality of the Mississippi pro-life bill, it is scheduled to rule on it in 2022, as several red states, such as Oklahoma and Florida, have adopted laws that are strongly pro-life in the last few months.

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