A Kentucky judge on Thursday blocked the state from enforcing an outright ban on abortion enacted in 2019 that was triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the constitutional right to it nationwide.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order at the request of two abortion clinics, including a Planned Parenthood affiliate, which challenged that law and another that bars abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion services had halted in the state since Friday, when the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had guaranteed the right of women to obtain abortions, clearing the way for states to enact bans.
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The decision came amid a flurry of litigation in state courts by abortion rights groups seeking to slow or halt restrictions on the ability of women to terminate pregnancies that are now taking effect or are poised to do so in 22 states.
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Those states include 13 that, like Kentucky, enacted so-called “trigger” laws designed to take effect if Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group.
Kentucky’s trigger ban has only limited medical exceptions permitting abortion only to prevent the death or serious, permanent injury to a woman.
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The decision is temporary, though, and a further hearing is scheduled on Wednesday on the clinics’ request for an injunction to further block enforcement of the laws.
“We’re glad the court recognized the devastation happening in Kentucky and decided to block the commonwealth’s cruel abortion bans,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, said in a statement that Perry had no basis under Kentucky’s constitution to allow the clinics to resume performing abortions.
“We cannot let the same mistake that happened in Roe v. Wade, nearly 50 years ago, to be made again in Kentucky,” he said. “We will be seeking relief from this order.”
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