The Kentucky abortion ban, passed in 2019, has an exception that lets the doctor perform the abortion if it is deemed necessary to prevent the death or injury of the mother. The law took effect after the Supreme Court issued its decision on June 24 that overturned Roe, the ruling that had largely legalized abortion in the country for nearly five decades.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry on Thursday granted the request by Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the state’s only two abortion providers, for a temporary suspension of Kentucky’s “trigger” law.
He heard arguments from both sides in Louisville on Wednesday before issuing his order. Attorneys for the clinic argued that Kentucky’s constitution protects the right to an abortion. Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s legal team says no such constitutional right exists.
Perry also temporarily blocked the enforcement of another Kentucky law, also passed in 2019, that bans abortion at six weeks, which is generally before most women know they are pregnant. The six-week ban was previously blocked by a federal court. But the challenge by the clinics argued that the injunction stopping the ban from being enforced will be dissolved due to the June 24 Supreme Court decision.
Kentucky now joins a number of other U.S. states with “trigger” laws that have been temporarily blocked due to intervention by state courts. Judges have put such laws on hold in Louisiana, Texas, and Utah.
Meanwhile, in Florida on Thursday, a circuit court judge in Tallahassee granted a petition to temporarily block a new abortion law that would ban the procedure at 15 weeks of pregnancy. The new law was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April.
Legal challenges to abortion measures are pending in Idaho, Ohio, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Idaho and Mississippi have trigger laws. Ohio has a six-week abortion ban, and West Virginia had a ban on abortion before the Roe v. Wade decision was issued.
Kentucky residents are set to vote on a ballot initiative in November that would, if ratified, establish that no state constitutional right to abortion exists.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.