(LEX 18) — A federal judge has issued a temporary order blocking Kentucky's new abortion law from taking effect.
Two lawsuits filed in federal court in Louisville asked that a judge intervene to block the law from taking effect while the case is litigated. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings granted the request for the temporary restraining order.
"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," said CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest Rebecca Gibron. "This is a win, but it is only the first step. 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."
"We are disappointed that the court chose to temporarily halt enforcement of the entire law," said Attorney General Daniel Cameron in a statement. "This law is constitutional, and we look forward to continuing to defend it."
The GOP-led legislature overrode Gov. Beshear's veto of House Bill 3, making it law. It includes 72 pages of revisions to Kentucky's abortion laws, with many new requirements that clinics must meet.
The two remaining abortion clinics in Kentucky, both in Louisville, the state's largest city, can't comply because the law mandates a new regulatory process that hasn't been set up yet, resulting in an "unconstitutional ban on abortion in Kentucky" they said.
"It is impossible to comply with its vast provisions, resulting in an immediate ban on abortion in the commonwealth absent this court's intervention," plaintiffs said.
About half of all abortions performed in Kentucky are the result of medication procedures.
The new law, which took effect immediately, requires such women to be examined in person by a doctor before receiving the abortion pills through a registration process that hasn't been established, they said.
The new law also requires new reporting that will violate patient privacy, providing women with no protection against having their identities exposed, the abortion-rights groups said.
With this law, Kentucky now aims to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, replacing the 20-week limit in the state code.
The 15-week ban is modeled after a Mississippi law the U.S. Supreme Court is considering in a case that could dramatically limit abortion rights in many states. The law's supporters wanted Kentucky's stricter ban in place in case the Mississippi law is upheld.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press and Newsy.