A federal judge has temporarily blocked Kentucky’s controversial “fetal heartbeat abortion bill,” delaying the law’s implementation by 14 days while its constitutionality can be reviewed, Vox is reporting.
On Friday, Kentucky’s legislature passed one of the toughest abortion laws in the country, forbidding abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Governor Matt Bevin signed the bill into law and, in the process, invoked the powers of an emergency declaration in order to put it into effect immediately.
The passage of that bill was accompanied by another abortion-related bill, which Bevin also signed, which prohibits “discriminatory” abortions based on the fetus’ gender, race, or disability.
Critics say the fetal heartbeat bill effectively bans all abortions in The Bluegrass State. Because a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, and since many pregnant women don’t even realize they’re pregnant until after that time, the bill is essentially an unconstitutional, across-the-board ban on all abortions, say opponents.
Within hours of the bill’s passage, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky filed suit to stop both bills from being implemented into law.
On Saturday, U.S. District Judge David Hale issued temporary restraining orders against both bills, citing a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the 50 states from prohibiting women from terminating their pregnancies before viability, which is usually around 24 weeks.
Hale’s restraining order prohibits either of those bills from going into effect until he (Hale) can hold a hearing to determine whether or not either of them or both of them pass constitutional muster.
“[Women seeking abortions] would be immediately and irreparably harmed absent a temporary restraining order from the court.”
Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, says that anti-abortion legislators are employing a tactic in passing laws that will almost certainly be struck down. They’re hoping that those laws will be challenged in court, and they’re hoping that at least one of them makes it all the way to the Supreme Court. There, says Amiri, the bill would face a newly-Conservative court that is likely to come down on the side of restrictive abortion laws.
“This onslaught of bans on abortion that fly in the face of Roe v. Wade are designed specifically for the purposes of trying to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe.”
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s one abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, was seen turning away patients on Friday because of the new law. However, since Hale’s ruling, it has re-opened.