Federal judge extends Kentucky abortion law ban again

A federal judge on Thursday extended an injunction blocking key parts of a new abortion law in Kentucky that had forced the state’s two clinics to temporarily suspend abortions.

The ruling said the law’s 15-week abortion ban would remain blocked until the US Supreme Court rules on a related abortion case in Mississippi.

US District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings’ ruling means Kentucky officials cannot enforce other controversial regulations until the state passes and funds regulations that abortion providers must comply with.

The judge previously stayed enforcement of the measure, which was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature last month, over a veto by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

The judge’s order on Thursday extended the suspension of the measure’s abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy and the requirement that women be examined by a doctor before being given abortion pills. This also applies to new restrictions and reporting requirements, which the clinics in Kentucky say they were unable to comply with immediately. Failure to comply can result in large fines, felony penalties, and the revocation of physician and facility licenses.

“Kentuckians can breathe a sigh of relief that these extreme restrictions remain blocked and abortion remains accessible for now,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Kentucky. “For almost a week (in April) we were blocked from providing this critical and time-sensitive healthcare. We can’t go back.”

Republican Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is defending the new law in court, said the judge’s recent order was disappointing, but added the case was “far from over.”

Cameron said he is appealing and said he will “take all available action to continue defending this important law that protects women’s unborn life and health.”

Overshadowing the Kentucky dispute is the abortion case before the US Supreme Court. A recently leaked draft opinion suggested the nation’s Supreme Court may be ready to hear the landmark Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortion nationwide.

Jennings, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said the matter before the Supreme Court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is “identical to the matter in this case.”

In the Kentucky case, Jennings noted problems with the new state requirements. She wrote that there was no dispute that the new abortion measure “does not include funding for the forms, regulations and programs required by law.”

“Under Kentucky law, a bill that requires funding but does not contain a funding provision cannot become effective immediately,” she wrote.

Supporters of the new law say the goal is to protect women’s health and strengthen oversight. Opponents say the goal all along has been to stop abortions in the state.

Abortions were suspended at the two Louisville clinics in the days after the law went into effect. During this time, women in Kentucky were forced to either travel out of state to terminate their pregnancy or await the judge’s decision. Many of the women affected were young and poor, lawyers said.

Attorneys for the two Kentucky clinics — Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center — challenged the measure and won orders to stop enforcing it.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/kentucky-ap-planned-parenthood-daniel-cameron-louisville-b2083290.html Federal judge extends Kentucky abortion law ban again

Bobby Allyn

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