Health Kentucky Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 8-1 that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has the right to defend a restrictive abortion law that passed the state legislature in 2018. 

The law would ban the dilation and evacuation abortion method, the most common procedure used during the second trimester. Former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law.

The measure was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, one of two remaining facilities in the state that provide abortions. It was struck down in 2019 by a federal court, ruling that it would have created a “substantial obstacle” for people seeking abortions in Kentucky.

The Supreme Court decision will allow Cameron to step in and defend the twice-struck-down law, after Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear declined to appeal it.

During a news conference outside the state Capitol Thursday, Cameron said the ruling was a “banner moment for Kentucky” and the anti-abortion movement.

“It’s a reminder that a cause, especially one as important as this one, is never lost so long as there are men and women who are dedicated to preserving it,” he said. 

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and lead counsel for EMW Women’s Surgical Center, denounced the decision in a statement.

“Politicians in Kentucky are working overtime to force people to continue pregnancies against their will, instead of doing what is best for the people they are supposed to serve,” Kolbi-Molinas said.

This development comes as Republican lawmakers in Kentucky attempt to restrict or end abortion altogether through several different avenues. Kentucky is one of a dozen states with so-called “trigger laws” in place, which would totally ban the procedure immediately if the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision is overturned this summer. 

The Kentucky House recently passed a GOP-led measure that would make it harder for minors to get abortions in the state and restrict access to medication abortions. The measure is now being considered by the state Senate.

In the fall, Kentucky voters will consider a Constitutional amendment that would preclude state courts from providing protections for abortion.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.