Federal judge strikes down Kentucky abortion law

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, shown here with President Donald Trump at a 2018 prison reform roundtable, has vowed to appeal a federal judge's ruling Friday that ruled a Kentucky abortion-restriction bill unconstitutional. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

May 11 (UPI) — A U.S. district judge struck down a one-year-old Kentucky law that restricted a type of abortion usually performed after the 14th week of pregnancy, ruling it violates a woman’s constitutional rights.

On Friday, Kentucky federal judge Joseph McKinley said the law violated the Constitution because it sought to block the procedure before the fetus is considered viable, at about 24 weeks, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the 2018 Kentucky law signed by Gov. Matt Bevin that made it a felony for a physician to perform such a procedure and made doctors subject to sanctions against his or her medical license.

“Today’s ruling affirms that health, not politics, will guide important medical decisions about pregnancy,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement.

“Laws like this are part of an orchestrated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians to push abortion out of reach entirely. Today’s decision holds – in no uncertain terms – that Kentuckians and the care they need comes first.”

Bevin’s communication director Elizabeth Kuhn said in a statement that the state would appeal McKinley’s ruling.

“We profoundly disagree with the court’s decision and will take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, to protect unborn children from being dismembered limb by limb while still alive,” Kuhn said.

The bill is one of the numerous laws passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures over the past two years restricting abortion rights. Opponents have charged that the laws are a ploy to force the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on one and possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, which made abortions legal.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed into law one of the United States’ strictest abortion laws, which bars most pregnancy terminations when a fetal heartbeat can be heard, about six weeks.

Similar “heartbeat” laws exist in Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, and potential laws have been introduced in 12 other states. Georgia’s bill, unlike most of the others, defines the fetus as a “natural person” and a “human being” once a heartbeat is detected.


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