Update: Judge has ruled abortions can continue in Kentucky for now

Judge sides with Kentucky clinics

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/WHAS) — Judge Mitch Perry ruled to temporary block Kentucky’s trigger ban and six-week ban on abortion Friday.

According to ABC-affiliate WHAS, the decision states, “The Plaintiffs have demonstrated at very least a substantial question as to the merits regarding the constitutionality of both the Trigger Ban and the Six Week Ban.”

The decision continues, “It is ordered that Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Temporary Injunction in granted.”

The ACLU of Kentucky, and Planned Parenthood, on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center issued a joint statement on Friday:

“Once again, the courts have rightly stopped Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s relentless efforts to ban abortion, which would have devastating consequences for Kentuckians. No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will or flee the state to access essential health care. Kentuckians have a right to abortion under the state constitution, and we’ll continue fighting for that right so that every person in the commonwealth can get the care they need.”

Statement from David Walls, Executive Director of The Family Foundation:

“Judge Perry’s appalling action to issue a temporary injunction against enforcement of Kentucky’s Human Life Protection Act is egregiously wrong and unjustifiable. Perry continues to blatantly disregard the Commonwealth’s pro-life laws, history, and the U.S. Supreme Court. But make no mistake, Kentucky’s prohibition on abortion is still the law of the land in Kentucky. The Kentucky Supreme Court must end this injunction immediately to ensure that the abortion industry stops killing children in the womb in violation of the law.”

“Judge Perry’s suggestion that the Kentucky Constitution somehow secretly contains a right to terminate  the life and stop the beating heart of an unborn human being, despite Kentucky’s clear 150-year pro-life history, is absolutely absurd. This is also a crystal-clear reminder why Kentuckians must ensure that this injustice is only temporary and this state-level judicial activism can never happen again by passing the “Yes for Life” Constitutional Amendment on November 8,” Walls concluded.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron issued a statement Friday:

“A Louisville Judge’s decision today to continue halting Kentucky’s Human Life Protection Act and Heartbeat Law is disappointing, and we will seek appellate relief.  The Judge’s suggestion that Kentucky’s Constitution contains a right to abortion is not grounded in the text and history of our state’s governing document. We will continue our steadfast defense of these bipartisan laws that represent the Commonwealth’s commitment to the lives of the unborn.”

As ABC36 has reported, the two Kentucky abortion clinics filed for an injunction in court July 6 to block the state’s near-total ban on the procedure, one of numerous such efforts across the country following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state’s abortion ban earlier this month, and the two clinics, both in Louisville, resumed performing abortions. If granted, the injunction would suspend the state law while the case is litigated.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron appealed the restraining order to the state’s appeals courts, but the Kentucky Supreme Court rejected Cameron’s appeal.

Abortion rights advocates have argued that Kentucky’s law banning abortions, set up to take effect immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling, violates the state’s constitution.

According to WHAS, Dr. Ashlee Bergin, who performs abortions at Louisville’s EMW clinic and was the first witness called by the clinics’ attorneys Wednesday, testified about the many possible health risks of pregnancy. Bergin cited statistics showing that pregnancy can be more dangerous to the health of a mother than abortion.

Vic Maddox, a deputy attorney general, asked Bergin during cross-examination to provide details of abortion procedures, prompting Perry to ask Maddox to “be less graphic.” Maddox also asked Bergin if she considers the fetus to be her patient, along with the mother.

“I don’t view it in those terms,” Bergin responded.

Dr. Jason Lindo, a professor at economics at Texas A&M, was also called to the stand on Wednesday for the clinics. Lindo told the court he specializes in health economics, focusing specifically on youth.

Lindo said Kentucky’s abortion ban will have “serious costs for Kentuckians,” including creating financial hardships, educational and professional harms and physical and psychiatric harms. He added the ban would disproportionately impact low-income residents and people of color.

In the lawsuit seeking the injunction, attorneys for the clinics argued that women were being “forced to remain pregnant against their will” in violation of the state’s constitution.

The defense then called Dr. Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, a pro-life OB/YGN.

Wubbenhorst said she doesn’t agree with abortion cases of fetal anomalies, rape or incest, but does agree with how Kentucky’s trigger law is written to allow abortions if the mother is in danger of dying.

Kentucky’s abortion law contains a narrow exception allowing a physician to perform the procedure if it is deemed necessary to prevent the death or permanent injury of the mother.

Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has denounced the state’s trigger law as “extremist,” noting it lacks exceptions for rape and incest.

Cameron, a Republican who is running for governor, said Tuesday night that he was disappointed Kentucky’s new abortion laws are being delayed.

“We’ve now asked all three levels of Kentucky’s judiciary to allow these laws to take effect,” he said in a social media statement. “Not a single judge at any level has suggested these laws are unconstitutional, yet we are unfortunately still prohibited from enforcing them.”

The lawsuit filed by the Kentucky clinics’ attorneys is one of numerous such efforts taking place in states that passed similar laws in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this month.

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