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Ky. Supreme Court will hear challenges to the state’s abortion laws Tuesday

Protesters at an abortion rights rally in downtown Louisville following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that undercut abortion rights across the country.
Protesters at an abortion rights rally in downtown Louisville following the U.S. Supreme Court decision that undercut abortion rights across the country.

Kentucky voters showed up at the polls last week to reject an amendment, which would have introduced language that there is no right to an abortion enshrined in the state constitution.

Meanwhile, abortion is still illegal in Kentucky. On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court will hear challenges to the abortion laws currently in effect. The court's decision will affect the future of reproductive rights in the state. 


The ACLU of Kentucky will argue in favor of abortion rights on behalf of the state’s two abortion providers, EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood. 

The court will hear arguments on multiple challenges to the 2019 trigger law, which outlaws abortions in all but life-threatening cases after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

In addition, the court has asked both parties to address how the six-week ban and trigger law would impact another law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.

Abortion access in Kentucky has been cut off since August, when the state court of appeals ruled the two near-total bans could be enforced as legal challenges to their constitutionality continue. The Kentucky Supreme Court later upheld that decision

It’s not clear how or if Amendment 2's failure could impact the case outcome. While abortion rights supporters celebrated the defeat and said it gives them a “fighting chance,” they hope the court will base their interpretation on the amendment vote.

Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers decried the rejection of the amendment. Sen. Whitney Westerfield, of Crofton, expressed disappointment over the result. 

“My assumption is that the court is going to strike down the trigger law and they’re going to create a right to abortion that is sweeping and broad and puts into jeopardy every pro-life measure the legislature has put in place,” he said. 

The GOP-dominated state legislature, which had introduced the constitutional amendment to allow Kentucky voters to weigh in, did not want courts intervening. Republican lawmakers argue that the General Assembly has the power to make laws on abortion. 

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a motion Tuesday essentially asking the court not to let the vote play into its decision.

A spokesperson with the Kentucky Supreme Court clerk’s office said it’s unclear when the court will issue its ruling.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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