Apr 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge temporarily blocks Kentucky's 15-week abortion ban

Photo of people lined up in front of an EMW Women's Surgical Center

Pro-life demonstrators and clinic escorts stand in front of the EMW Womens Surgical Center, an abortion clinic, on May 8, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Jon Cherry via Getty Images

A federal judge temporarily blocked Kentucky's recently enacted 15-week abortion ban on Thursday.

Why it matters: The law, which does not allow exceptions for rape or incest, included a slew of other provisions that caused Kentucky's only two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, to stop performing abortions.

  • Planned Parenthood is arguing that the law is "impossible to comply with" and therefore "amounts to a de facto abortion ban, thus violating patients’ federal right to abortion under Roe v. Wade."
  • U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings has now granted the request for a temporary restraining order, allowing both providers to perform the procedure again. Planned Parenthood told Axios its Louisville clinic would resume care immediately.

What they're saying: "We're grateful for the temporary restraining order (TRO) restricting this egregious abortion ban from continuing to block a constitutionally protected right to basic care," Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement.

  • "This is a win, but it is only the first step," Gibron added. "We’re prepared to fight for our patients’ right to basic health in court and to continue doing everything in our power in ensure abortion access is permanently secured in Kentucky."

Worth noting: The ACLU is waiting for action in a separate lawsuit it filed on behalf of EMW Women's Surgical Center, but ACLU spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw confirmed that EMW will also begin offering abortions again starting Friday.

The big picture: Kentucky's law is modeled after Mississippi's abortion law, which is currently under review by the Supreme Court.

  • Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear had vetoed the bill, criticizing its lack of exceptions for rape or incest and calling it "likely unconstitutional."
  • The state legislature overrode his veto a week later.

Go deeper: Red states race to enact new abortion restrictions


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