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Abortion states: Kentucky bans pauses to allow abortions to resume; Judge blocks Florida’s 15-week ban

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — A Kentucky judge on Thursday temporarily blocked that state’s near-total abortion ban, while a Florida judge said he would temporarily halt a 15-week ban as judges across the country weigh state constitutions to allow the procedure, after the US Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade had picked up.

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The Kentucky ruling pauses that state’s so-called trigger law, which was set to go into effect after the country’s highest court ruled to end federal constitutional protections for abortions. The case echoes battles raging in courts across the country after the Supreme Court left states free to decide whether abortion is legal within their borders – forcing abortion rights groups to look to state constitutions for protection to turn.

Some of the litigation involves trigger laws — like those in Kentucky and Florida — that are specifically designed to go into effect should Roe fall. Some include prohibitions that have been on the books for generations and are not enforced. Others include abortion bans, which were held up pending the Roe verdict and are now moving forward.

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In Florida, Judge John C. Cooper said Thursday that he would temporarily block the enactment of the 15-week abortion ban after reproductive health providers argued that the state’s constitution guarantees a right to the procedure. Cooper said Florida’s ban was “unconstitutional in that it violates the privacy provisions of the Florida Constitution.”

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will appeal.

Cooper’s decision will not come into effect until he signs a written order – which would appear not to come until Tuesday – meaning the 15-week ban is expected to go into effect on Friday as planned. The gap raises questions about whether some patients would be affected. Florida’s current law allows abortions up to 24 weeks, and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the vast majority of the state’s abortions occur before the 15-week deadline.

The frenzy of court activity has created confusion across the states and has patients and clinics in turmoil.

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In Arizona, the attorney general said Wednesday that a full ban on abortion, which was on the books before statehood, can be enforced, although the governor disagrees, saying a new law banning abortion after 15 weeks has priority. Abortion providers in that state immediately stopped performing the procedure for fear of prosecution.

In Louisiana, this Attorney General warned doctors against abortions, even after a ban there has been temporarily lifted.

Florida law contains exceptions when the procedure is necessary to save the life of the pregnant person, to prevent serious injury, or when the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.

Reproductive health providers challenged the law, which was based on a 1980 state amendment guaranteeing a broad right to privacy that the state Supreme Court interpreted to include abortion. Florida voters reaffirmed the right to privacy in 2012 by rejecting a ballot initiative that would have weakened their protections, plaintiffs said.

The state argued that abortion providers could not claim a personal right to privacy because they were acting as a third party on behalf of their patients. The attorneys also said that the state’s constitutional right to privacy does not include the right to an abortion, arguing that the state has an interest in protecting health and protecting potential life.

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In a statement, DeSantis said the Florida Supreme Court previously misinterpreted Florida’s right to privacy to include an abortion right. He said the state rejects that interpretation “because the Florida Constitution does not – and never has – contain a right to kill an innocent unborn child.”

In Kentucky, Thursday’s ruling allowed abortions to resume after they were abruptly ended last week. Heather Gatnarek, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, said nearly 200 women with scheduled appointments have been turned away from the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, one of two abortion clinics in Louisville, in recent days.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood released a joint statement saying they were glad the “cruel abortion bans” were blocked, adding that since last week’s decision, “numerous Kentuckians have been forced to conceive against their will.” or to flee their home state in search of basic necessities. Despite this win, we know this fight is far from over.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican running for governor, said Thursday’s decision had no basis in the state constitution and that he intended to appeal it.

“We will do everything we can to continue to defend this law and ensure unborn life is protected in the Commonwealth,” he said in a statement.

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Kentucky’s decision came after abortion clinics filed a lawsuit that said women were “forced to remain pregnant against their will,” in violation of the state’s constitution. They had asked the judge to temporarily block the trigger law along with another Kentucky law that sought to prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry also agreed to temporarily block the six-week ban. This measure was previously stopped by a federal court.

The Kentucky measure contains a narrow exception that allows a physician to perform a procedure necessary to prevent the death or permanent injury of a pregnant woman. It does not allow abortions in cases of rape or incest.

Kentucky residents will vote on a ballot initiative in November that, if ratified, would establish that there is no state constitutional right to abortion. Both sides of the abortion debate are busy organizing ahead of the election.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/abortion-rights-kentucky-florida-law/12006758/ Abortion states: Kentucky bans pauses to allow abortions to resume; Judge blocks Florida’s 15-week ban

Dais Johnston

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