Apr 14, 2022 - Health

Kentucky's only two providers stop offering abortions unless court blocks new ban

Picture of the entrance of an abortion clinic with people waiting outside holding anti-abortion signs
Anti-abortion demonstrators in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 28, 2021. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky's only abortion providers, will not perform the procedure unless the state's new 15-week abortion ban is blocked by the court.

Driving the news: Patients seeking abortions in Kentucky are advised to reach out to the clinic for their first appointment "so that we can coordinate care in Indiana or another state that can provide the care they need," Nicole Erwin, a Kentucky-based Planned Parenthood spokesperson, told Axios.

  • Planned Parenthood patient navigators will direct patients to resources that can help with travel and additional expenses.
  • A spokesperson for EMW Women's Surgical Center said that the clinic will not be providing abortions until a court grants a temporary restraining order blocking the law while the legal challenge is underway.

Catch up fast: Kentucky's Republican-led legislature passed a bill that bans all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed the bill, but the legislature then overrode the veto.

  • The law is now in effect.

State of play: Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing that it creates "unnecessary abortion requirements while simultaneously making those requirements impossible to comply with."

  • In a memo filed Thursday in support of a preliminary injunction, attorneys for the clinics argued that since the law took effect immediately, it is "impossible" for them to comply with it because the forms and regulations it sets are "not yet ready."

What this means: Kentucky is effectively the first state where clinics are not providing abortions despite protections set by the Supreme Court's 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade.

Details: Kentucky's H.B. 3 bans abortions after 15 weeks, except in cases of a medical emergency. It has no exceptions for rape or incest.

  • The bill also enacts new abortion regulations, including forcing patients to report their abortions and file "birth-death certificates." Additionally, clinics are required to work with funeral homes to have fetal remains buried or cremated.
  • Health professionals who provide an abortion are required to report the procedure to the state, including information such as the method that was used, the "reason" for the abortion, as well as the pregnant person's address, age, race, ethnicity and the age of their sexual partner.
  • The legislation also prohibits abortion pills to be provided via telemedicine and sets new restrictions for minors seeking abortion care.

Zoom out: The Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could throw the future of Roe v. Wade into question.

  • A decision on this case is expected as soon as June.

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