Federal judge blocks Kentucky’s abortion law that eliminates access in state

A federal judge in Kentucky has granted a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of a recently enacted state law effectively blocking all access to abortion care in the state.

US District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings granted a request from Planned Parenthood, one of two remaining providers in the state, to halt enforcement of the law, which made the state the first to eliminate access to all abortion services.

The state’s sweeping omnibus anti-abortion legislation – which went into effect immediately after the state’s Republican-controlled legislature voted to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto – bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, mirroring a Mississippi law at the center of the US Supreme Court case that could upend decades of precedent establishing constitutional protections for abortion care.

The law also restricts minors’ access to the procedure and seeks to eliminate medication abortion, which accounts for roughly half of all abortions in the state. The law also makes no exception for cases involving rape or incest, and loads so many other restrictive elements that abortion rights advocates argue it would be impossible to comply with, effectively creating an “unconstitutional ban on abortion” in the state, according to a challenge from Planned Parenthood.

House Bill 3 will “completely and immediately eliminate abortion access in Kentucky by piling on a laundry list of unnecessary abortion restrictions that are impossible for providers to comply with,” according to the ACLU of Kentucky.

Planned Parenthood and EWM Women’s Surgical Center each filed individual requests for emergency relief in federal court after warnings that they would be forced to close if they could not meet the law’s requirements.

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The temporary restraining order means both Louisville-area clinics can resume services.

“The Court restrains enforcement of the entirety of HB 3 at this time, as it lacks information to specifically determine which individual provisions and subsections are capable of compliance,” according to the filing from Judge Jennings. “The Court will consider additional proof on this issue at the preliminary injunction hearing which will be scheduled prior to the expiration of this restraining order.”

Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement that the organization is counting the latest move as a “win, but it is only the first step.”

“We’re prepared to fight for our patients’ right to basic health in court and to continue doing everything in our power in ensuring abortion access is permanently secured in Kentucky,” she said.

Kentucky’s law is among a wave of anti-abortion bills from Republican state legislators across the US, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling in the Mississippi case that could determine the fate of healthcare protections for women if the decades-old precedent from the ruling in Roe v. Wade is overturned.

More than 500 abortion restrictions have been proposed in state legislatures in 2022, according to Planned Parenthood.

Should the Supreme Court reject precedent from the landmark gnawsruling, more than two-dozen states already have in place so-called “trigger bans” and other abortion restrictions that would immediately outlaw abortion care.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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