15-week abortion ban to take effect in Kentucky this weekend

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, July 16, 2022

By Tessa Redmond

A federal judge granted a motion to reinstate Kentucky’s 15-week abortion ban on Thursday.

The 15-week ban had been enjoined since April when judge Rebecca Grady Jennings issued a preliminary injunction against portions of House Bill 3—a multi-faceted pro-life bill that not only codified the gestational limit on abortion but also bolstered Kentucky’s judicial bypass process, updated abortion reporting requirements and introduced new regulations for abortion-inducing drugs.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a request to lift Jennings’ preliminary injunction shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The case had been pending in western district court until a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was issued by the high court.

Jennings’ preliminary injunction against the 15-week ban will dissolve at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, allowing the gestational restriction on abortions to be enforced starting Saturday. Prior to the ruling, abortions were permitted up to 21 weeks gestation.

The ruling will not impact Planned Parenthood in Louisville, which only provides abortions up to 13 weeks and six days gestation. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the only abortion provider in Kentucky that performs the procedure after 15 weeks, did not oppose AG Cameron’s motion. Both organizations are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against HB 3.

Thursday’s order is the latest update in a string of lawsuits related to the state’s abortion laws.

HB 3 is still partially blocked while abortion providers wait on the Cabinet of Health and Family Services to develop new forms and regulations that will allow them to comply with provisions of the law. Jennings ordered the Cabinet and Planned Parenthood to file status reports by next Friday “describing any progress made toward compliance with HB 3.”

Also pending in Jefferson Circuit Court is a challenge to Kentucky’s trigger law, which immediately banned abortion in the commonwealth upon Roe’s reversal. Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order against the law on June 30, allowing abortions to continue while the suit is pending.

Both parties have until July 18 to file briefs with the court, and then Perry will weigh if a more permanent block on the law is warranted under the Kentucky Constitution.