Aug 2, 2022 - Health

Appeals court reinstates two abortion bans in Kentucky

Picture of abortion rights protesters

Abortion rights protesters chant and display signs at a gathering in dissent of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

An appellate court in Kentucky on Monday night reinstated two restrictive abortion laws in the state, allowing for a trigger law and a six-week ban to be enforced while a case to challenge the bans proceeds.

Driving the news: Judge Larry Thompson granted a request from Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who had asked the court to reverse a lower court's temporary injunctions that allowed abortion providers to keep offering services.

Details: While the laws' constitutionality has not been determined, "a statute carries with it the presumption of constitutionality" in Kentucky, Thompson wrote in his ruling, citing a state Supreme Court case decision.

  • He also wrote that "nothing in this order shall be construed to limit medical providers' ability to act to protect maternal health in the commonwealth," adding that the bans in question have exceptions.

State of play: Under the state's trigger law, abortions are illegal in Kentucky unless they're necessary to save a pregnant person's life or to "prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ" of the patient.

  • A health provider who violates the trigger law can be found guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Kentucky's six-week ban prohibits abortion once an embryo's cardiac activity has been detected. An abortion past this point can only be performed only if there is a "medical emergency."

Catch up fast: Kentucky's trigger law had taken effect shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but was temporarily blocked by a court.

What he's saying: "I appreciate the court’s decision to allow Kentucky’s pro-life laws to take effect while we continue to vigorously defend the constitutionality of these important protections for women and unborn children across the Commonwealth," said Kentucky's attorney general Daniel Cameron.

The other side: "Tonight, in one fateful moment, Kentuckians saw their reproductive freedom stolen by their elected officials. It is devastating and cruel. But the fight is not over," said Alexis McGill Johnson, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

  • "We will explore all options to ensure that people across the state can access abortion services."
  • In a press release, Planned Parenthood said it is "committed to helping Kentuckians get the care they need, including helping patients find care out of state."
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