A Kentucky judge on Thursday blocked the state from enforcing a ban on abortion enacted in 2019 that was triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the constitutional right to it nationwide.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary restraining order at the request of two abortion clinics, including a Planned Parenthood affiliate, which challenged that law and another that bars abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — that can come before a woman realizes she is pregnant.
Abortion services had halted in the state since Friday, when the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that had guaranteed the right of women to obtain abortions, clearing the way for states to enact bans.
In Florida, meanwhile, Circuit Court Judge John Cooper was expected to rule later on Thursday on whether to block a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy from taking effect on Friday, following a hearing in Tallahassee.
Several groups, including Planned Parenthood affiliates and Florida abortion clinics, filed a lawsuit arguing the state constitution protects women’s right to an abortion for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The 15-week limit, which mirrors the Mississippi law at the heart of the U.S. Supreme Court case that reversed Roe, was signed into law in April by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
With a federal right to abortion no longer guaranteed, abortion rights groups and clinics have rushed to state courts seeking to slow or halt Republican-backed restrictions on the ability of women to terminate pregnancies that are now taking effect or are poised to do so in 22 states.
State courts in Texas, Louisiana and Utah have temporarily blocked bans in those states since last week. There are 13 states that, like Kentucky, enacted so-called “trigger” laws designed to take effect if Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group.
Kentucky’s trigger ban has only limited medical exceptions permitting abortion only to prevent the death or serious, permanent injury to a woman.
The decision is temporary, though, and a further hearing is scheduled on Wednesday on the clinics’ request for an injunction to further block enforcement of the laws.
“We’re glad the court recognized the devastation happening in Kentucky and decided to block the commonwealth’s cruel abortion bans,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, said in a statement that Perry had no basis under Kentucky’s constitution to allow the clinics to resume performing abortions.
“We cannot let the same mistake that happened in Roe v. Wade, nearly 50 years ago, to be made again in Kentucky,” he said. “We will be seeking relief from this order.”
With Roe no longer law, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday also threw out lower federal court rulings that had invalidated abortion limits in Arizona, Arkansas and Indiana.