Judge Holds Up Abortion Law

Kentucky's clinics say they aren't ready to comply with new statute
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2022 6:00 PM CDT
Kentucky Abortion Law Blocked
Supporters of access to abortion chant their objections to restrictive legislation at the Kentucky Capitol earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner, File)

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a state law that effectively eliminated abortions in Kentucky after the state's two remaining clinics said they couldn't meet its requirements. The decision by US District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings was a victory for abortion rights advocates and a setback for the Republican-led legislature, which passed the law in March and then overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's veto of the measure last week. Both of the clinics indicated Thursday that they would immediately resume abortion services, the AP reports.

The new law bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and requires women to be examined by a doctor before receiving abortion pills. It also contains new restrictions and reporting requirements that the Kentucky clinics said they couldn't immediately comply with. Noncompliance can result in stiff fines, felony penalties, and revocation of physician and facility licenses. Jennings' order did not delve into the larger issue of the new law's constitutionality. Instead, it focused on the clinics' claims that they're unable to immediately comply with the measure because the state hasn't yet set up clear guidelines. The judge said her order does not prevent the state from crafting regulations.

Jennings, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said she decided to block the measure because she lacked information "to specifically determine which individual provisions and subsections are capable of compliance." Abortion rights activists were encouraged. "This is a win, but it is only the first step," said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Kentucky. The state's Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, signaled that he'll be ready to defend the law. "We are disappointed that the court chose to temporarily halt enforcement of the entire law," he said in a statement. "This law is constitutional and we look forward to continuing to defend it."

(More anti-abortion laws stories.)

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