Kentucky Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s request to defend Kentucky’s ban on a common abortion procedure, which was blocked by lower courts.

Former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed the state’s ban on dilation and evacuation abortions into law in 2018, but a federal court struck it down the following year, saying it would have created a “substantial obstacle” for Kentuckians seeking the procedure.

An appeals court upheld that ruling in 2020, but Cameron has sought to intervene in the case.

In a statement, Cameron said the law “reflects the conscience of Kentucky.”

“It’s important that Kentuckians have a voice before our nation’s highest court. I was elected to provide that voice, and we look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court,” Cameron wrote.

The case will likely be heard later this year.

The development comes after the Republican-led legislature passed a law allowing Cameron to enforce Kentucky’s abortion laws, a power normally reserved for the state’s health cabinet. Beshear vetoed the measure, but the legislature overrode him.

Dilation and evacuation is the most common procedure for people seeking to end their pregnancies in the second trimester, which begins in the 13th week of pregnancy.

Kentucky currently bans abortions during or after the 20th week of pregnancy, though the legislature has passed several measures seeking to restrict abortions earlier.

In a statement, the ACLU of Kentucky said reinstating the law would make abortion access out of reach in the state.

“Cameron tried to intervene at the last minute and was denied because he wasn’t part of the suit. If SCOTUS rules in his favor he could return to the lower court to appeal their decision on the law. He will stop at nothing to keep people from making their own decisions about pregnancy,” the ACLU wrote on Twitter.

Cameron’s request to defend the dilation and evacuation ban will be the first abortion-related case taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court since conservatives solidified their majority with the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

A ruling in favor of Cameron could open the door for conservative officials across the country to defend abortion laws when governors decline to.

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