Kentucky Supreme Court Rejects Request to Reinstate Abortion Bans

Kentucky Supreme Court Rejects Request to Reinstate Abortion Bans
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks to reporters in Washington on Oct. 12, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

The Kentucky Supreme Court rejected a request by the state's attorney general on July 5 to reinstate two bans on abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down Roe v. Wade.

The Kentucky court, in a one-page order, denied Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's emergency motions to reinstate two state laws, the Heartbeat Law and the Human Life Protection Act.

If the laws weren't reinstated, unborn children would be killed, Cameron, a Republican, said in court filings. One law bars abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, while the other bans most abortions, with exceptions for rape, incest, or a high risk of death for a pregnant woman.

Cameron also took issue with how a single judge, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry, entered injunctions against the laws after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision led to the protection act taking effect; the heartbeat law has been in place since 2019.

In the brief order, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton said the rejection of the emergency motions "expresses no opinion on the substantive issues in this matter."

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

A hearing was scheduled on July 6 in the circuit court on the matter. Perry could reverse his earlier ruling or keep the injunctions in place. A decision could take days or weeks.

The Kentucky chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing the abortion clinic EMW Women's Surgical Center in the case, called the Kentucky Supreme Court ruling "another great victory."

The U.S. Supreme Court decision means that states have the ability to regulate abortions.

A number of other abortion bans that hadn't taken effect while Roe v. Wade was still in place have since been allowed to take effect, including bans in Mississippi and Florida.

The ACLU and other groups are fighting the bans in many states, but judges have rejected some of the other attempts.

In Kentucky, ACLU lawyers alleged that the bans violate Kentucky's Constitution by "infringing on Plaintiffs' patients' rights to privacy and self-determination." Cameron said in one filing that the injunctions, which were upheld by an appeals court, were based on "a purported constitutional right that no court has ever recognized."

Perry said in his order that plaintiffs had established "their right to entry of a Restraining Order against Defendants" and prohibited the state from prosecuting doctors for performing abortions in violation of the laws. The appeals court passed on taking up the case, citing a perceived lack of jurisdiction.

Related Topics