Politics

Next week, a federal court in Louisville will hear arguments over a new Kentucky law that bans a common type of abortion procedure.

Earlier this year the Kentucky legislature passed a bill banning dilation and evacuation abortions after the 11th week of pregnancy except in medical emergencies.

Gov. Matt Bevin signed the law and the ACLU sued on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Clinic, the state’s only abortion provider, arguing that the measure is unconstitutional.

A judge temporarily blocked the law from going into effect while the lawsuit is ongoing.

Andrew Beck, an attorney with the ACLU, said that the law interferes with physicians’ judgement and women’s access to safe abortions.

“Politicians have inserted themselves into medicine, are trying to micromanage medical procedures to score political points,” Beck said in a teleconference on Thursday.

“A woman’s health, and not politics, should guide important medical decisions at every point in pregnancy.”

According to state statistics, the dilation and evacuation procedure was used in 537 of the 3,312 abortions performed in Kentucky in 2016.

Similar laws in six other states have drawn legal challenges and have been totally or temporarily blocked by courts, however Mississippi and West Virginia have similar policies on the books.

This week, Texas is arguing to overturn a ruling that its ban was unconstitutional.

Kentucky lawmakers have passed a handful of anti-abortion laws in recent years including a ban on abortions after the 19th week in pregnancy, an ultrasound abortion requirement and a policy that puts Planned Parenthood at the back of the line for federal funds that funnel through state government.

No matter how the court rules, the decision will likely be appealed. Beck said he didn’t think the U.S. Supreme Court would accept an appeal of the case.

“At the end of the day the courts are doing the same thing which is applying extremely long-settled law to strike this down,” Beck said. “So there’s really no reason for the Supreme Court to take one of these cases, every court that’s looked at this has held it unconstitutional.”

Last month a federal judge struck down Kentucky’s law requiring abortion providers to have written agreements with an ambulance service and hospital for emergencies. Bevin’s administration had tried to close down EMW using the law and has appealed the ruling.

A lawsuit over Kentucky’s ultrasound abortion law — which requires doctors to describe a pregnant woman’s fetus to her before the procedure — is currently pending in a federal appeals court.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.