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Planned Parenthood holds off on abortions in Ky. as court case continues

Protesters gathered at the Kentucky Capitol earlier this month ahead of the legislature passing into law a sweeping abortion bill.
Protesters gathered at the Kentucky Capitol earlier this month ahead of the legislature passing into law a sweeping abortion bill.

Planned Parenthood has reiterated its request for a judge to temporarily block a sweeping abortion measure that became law last week. 

The GOP-led Kentucky legislature voted to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of House Bill 3, which makes it harder for minors to get abortions, regulates abortion medication, adds new requirements for the disposal of fetal remains and bans abortion at 15 weeks. 

Since it has an emergency clause, the bill went into effect immediately. 

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky, Inc., which operates the Louisville clinic, filed a federal lawsuit the following day. It says the law is unconstitutional and has asked for either a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to block the law. 

Representatives with the organization say the law is, in effect, a total ban on abortion, because Planned Parenthood can’t immediately comply with certain parts that have not yet been set up. They’ve since stopped providing abortions in order to avoid steep penalties for breaking the law. 

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a response Tuesday, asking the judge to deny the request to block the law. 

He said that Planned Parenthood failed to meet the burden of proving that the law is unconstitutional and that the organization does not have to comply with regulations not yet in place. 

For instance, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has 60 days to set up some of its tasks under the law, and Cameron says Planned Parenthood would not be responsible for filling out forms the Cabinet hasn’t yet provided or created. 

He added that are parts of the law they should be able to comply with now.

In its response Wednesday, attorneys for Planned Parenthood said Cameron’s statements are not backed up by the language of the law, and that “opinions of the AG are not binding on courts.” 

It states that Planned Parenthood can’t schedule any abortions at its Louisville clinic until a judge grants relief, “which may push some patients beyond the period in which medication abortion is available to them, and others beyond the period in which abortion is available at all." 

They say this is causing “multiple irreparable harms.”

District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings said in a filing last week that she was taking the motion for a temporary block under consideration immediately, and gave Attorney General Cameron until Tuesday to respond. As of Wednesday afternoon, the judge had not yet issued a ruling on the matter. 

The ACLU also filed a request last week in a separate case, asking for a judge to block the law. The ACLU’s request, filed in an existing case on behalf of EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, also challenges the bill’s 15 week ban. 

A judge has also not yet ruled in that case. 

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.