Health Kentucky Politics

One of Kentucky’s two providers has resumed abortions up to 21 weeks and six days, following clarification from a federal judge. 

The judge issued a temporary restraining order of the new, restrictive abortion law in a case brought by Planned Parenthood, but EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville capped abortions at 15 weeks to comply with one of its measures.

The law, which went into effect in mid-April, makes it harder for minors to get abortions, restricts medication abortion and bans abortion at 15 weeks. 

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky and the ACLU, acting on behalf of EMW, filed documents in federal court the day after the law passed. 

Attorneys have argued the law is unconstitutional and acts as a de facto ban on abortion in the state, since providers can’t immediately comply with new regulations not yet in place. 

District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings last week issued a temporary restraining order in the Planned Parenthood case, blocking the law. 

Both organizations then began providing abortions again, after turning away patients for the more than week. 

But EMW, which has typically provided abortions up to 21 weeks and six days, capped the service at 15 weeks, asking the judge for clarification. 

Since Planned Parenthood’s Louisville health center only provides abortion up to 13 weeks and six days, they didn’t address the 15-week ban in their lawsuit. 

Judge Jennings clarified Tuesday that the ban includes the entire bill, which means EMW wouldn’t be penalized for providing them after the 15-week mark while the temporary restraining order is in effect.

She also ruled that the ACLU and EMW can join Planned Parenthood’s suit and bring a direct challenge to the 15-week ban. 

Following the law’s passage, The ACLU had filed documents in an existing case, related to 2019 abortion laws which are currently blocked. 

Last week, the judge in that case denied the ACLU’s motion to challenge the new law in the older case, at which point they moved to join Planned Parenthood in litigating the measure. 

A hearing for a preliminary injunction is set for Monday at 10 a.m., which could further block the law. 

 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.