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'Untenable situation': OB-GYN physician on Kentucky's abortion bans

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Posted at 11:04 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 08:06:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry will decide by Thursday whether to grant a temporary restraining order filed by the ACLU, which would allow clinics to resume performing abortion procedures.

Dr. Amy Kimm, an OB-GYN, told LEX 18 that a pause to Kentucky's two abortion bans is desperately needed.

"The current climate makes it so that providers are really hesitant to take the next step and offer either medical or surgical management of those miscarriages," Dr. Kimm said.

Dr. Kimm, who asked LEX 18 not to reveal her employer, said her institution has been forced to implement rules that will delay care out of fear of litigation.

She explained that she and her colleagues have to adhere to a new rule that stipulates that two physicians need to sign off on documentation before performing procedures addressing miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or other situations where the hospital may have to defend why a procedure was performed.

"It's putting a wedge between patients and providers that should not be there," Dr. Kimm said.

Other OB-GYNs have echoed Dr. Kimm's concerns, expressing confusion over how Kentucky's trigger law should be interpreted. The 2019 law prohibits abortions in all cases, except when the life of a pregnant woman is at risk.

The ACLU of Kentucky, on behalf of two abortion providers, has filed a lawsuit to temporarily block two abortion bans.

"Kentucky courts have actually held that our privacy right is more protective and broader and has been held to protect things that even the U.S. Supreme Court wasn't yet protecting," said Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky.

The Attorney General's Office asked Judge Perry to deny the request for a restraining order.

"The proper party isn't here," Assistant AG Christopher Thacker argued in front of Judge Perry, noting that none of the plaintiffs are women seeking an abortion. "None of these parties can suffer injury."

Outside of the courtroom, anti-abortion advocates argued that Kentucky's trigger law is sound and that there is no state constitutional right to abortion.

"Lives are being saved here in the commonwealth," David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation, said. "And anything that undoes that would do irreparable harm to the commonwealth and to the babies in the womb."

Dr. Kimm maintains that irreparable harm is already being done to pregnant women, who may require an abortion or need other forms of healthcare.

"It's an untenable situation for our healthcare system," she said.