Case is sent back to lower court
By Dave Andrusko
The Kentucky Supreme Court this morning ruled in favor of Attorney General Daniel Cameron, agreeing with the Court of Appeals’ decision that a lower court wrongly stopped the enforcement of Kentucky’s Human Life Protection Act and Heartbeat Law. As a result Kentucky’s near-total ban on abortions will remain in place until a lower court can decide whether or not the law is constitutional.
In its 144 page decision the justices
[A]ffirm the Court of Appeals’ holding that the circuit court abused its discretion by granting the abortion providers’ motion for a temporary injunction and remand to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Cameron issued a statement following the courts verdict:
“Since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade last June, we have vigorously defended Kentucky’s Human Life Protection Act and Heartbeat Law.
We are very pleased that Kentucky’s high court has allowed these laws to remain in effect while the case proceeds in circuit court.
“This is a significant victory, and we will continue to stand up for the unborn by defending these laws.”
Currently, Kentucky “only allows abortions to save the life of the pregnant person, under a trigger law that kicked into effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned,” according to the New Republic. A separate ban prohibits abortion after six weeks when the baby’s heartbeat is detectable.
Judge Mitch Perry had halted both laws in July. “He held they violated the state constitution’s right to privacy and self-determination,” according to POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein. “Just weeks later, Appeals Court Judge Larry Thompson overturned the injunction.”
To be clear, at this stage, the state’s highest court is not addressing whether the bans are constitutional. Rather the issue before the justices was whether to reinstate an injunction first issued by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry while a legal challenge works its way through the courts. After a request from Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the Kentucky Court of Appeals stayed the injunction. Today the justices agreed with Cameron.
The two sides, one representing Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the only two abortion clinics in operation in Kentucky, the other representing the state argued their respective positions on November 15.
“The attorney general respectfully urges the court not to go down that path, not to create the Kentucky version of Roe versus Wade,” said Matthew Kuhn, who argued the case on behalf of the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General. “When it comes to abortion, our constitution here in Kentucky is simply silent.” He added, “And there is not a shred of historical evidence, none from this court’s case law and none from our constitutional debates, that suggests our constitution implicitly protects abortion.”
Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Kentucky, argued that the injunction should be reinstated and upheld. “Patients’ irreparable injury includes being forced to remain pregnant against their will facing physical and mental health risks and the pain and trauma of a birth they did not choose or taking on the additional costs, time and hardship to travel out of state to access abortion care if they are able to at all.”