In a late Tuesday order, the Kentucky state Supreme Court denied a request by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, to allow the enforcement of an abortion ban in the state that covers all stages of pregnancy with extremely rare exceptions.
It’s not the first loss for Cameron in this case. After Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center sued state officials over the ban, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry granted a temporary restraining order that blocked officials from enforcing the challenged measure. Cameron pushed for the Kentucky Court of Appeals to undo Perry’s move, but that court declined to do so. Judge Glenn Acree, who serves on the appeals court, indicated that the plaintiffs possessed the appropriate constitutional standing to have brought their lawsuit against the ban. The “challenged statutes directly prohibit [Kentucky’s abortion clinics] from lawfully engaging in both medication abortions and procedural abortions,” meaning allowing the abortion ban to stand inflicts personal injury on Kentucky abortion providers, according to Acree.
The Kentucky state Supreme Court did not offer an opinion on the substance of the case when denying Cameron’s push to allow the enforcement of the ban. “This order expresses no opinion on the substantive issues in this matter,” the Supreme Court’s order stated. The ACLU of Kentucky hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling on Twitter: “The Kentucky Supreme Court has just DENIED Daniel Cameron’s latest attempt to undo our victory and enforce a complete abortion ban. Abortion remains legal in Kentucky and you can still get an abortion in Kentucky.” The ACLU of Kentucky is representing EMW Women’s Surgical Center in ongoing litigation against the Kentucky ban. “Due to the fall of Roe, we sued in state court arguing the KY Constitution guarantees the rights to bodily autonomy, privacy, and self-determination,” the legal organization added on Twitter.
Cameron is running for governor. His commitment to seeking to get the law upheld isn’t just procedural: “And even more importantly, the restraining order guarantees the ending of lives. If that is not the kind of irreparable harm contemplated by CR 76.34(4), what is?” Cameron argued in his request for action by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, using brazen right-wing fearmongering. An additional hearing on the question of issuing a longer-lasting injunction against the enforcement of the Kentucky abortion ban was slated for early Wednesday.
There’s been temporary success in litigation against abortion bans in other states as well since Roe was overturned, which left state leaders free to regulate abortion according to their personal and political ambitions. In Utah and Louisiana, bans were temporarily blocked, and a block on a 15-week ban in Florida was issued, although it was quickly overturned as court challenges continue. There’s litigation elsewhere, including in Idaho, Oklahoma, and Ohio. Going forward, legal challenges over reproductive rights seem likely to be a feature of the reproductive healthcare environment. There have already been expected indications certain right-wingers — like Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis — feel emboldened to pursue new restrictions on abortion following the Supreme Court overturning Roe.