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Ky. abortion provider seeks clarification on 15-week ban

Protesters gathered at the Kentucky Capitol last week ahead of the legislature passing into law a sweeping abortion bill.
Protesters gathered at the Kentucky Capitol last week ahead of the legislature passing into law a sweeping abortion bill.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center has joined a federal lawsuit filed recently by Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky.

On Monday, the ACLU filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing Planned Parenthood case, asking a judge to clarify whether her recent block of House Bill 3 includes the 15-week ban. The ACLU is representing EMW. 

In addition to that ban, the new law makes it harder for minors to get abortions, restricts abortion medication and regulates disposal of fetal remains. 

The GOP-led legislature showed overwhelming support for the bill, and it passed in late March. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the bill the following week, but the legislature overrode that veto and it became law in mid-April. 

Both Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed documents in federal court seeking to block the law, challenging its constitutionality and arguing they couldn’t comply with regulations not yet set up.

The ACLU’s action was filed as a supplemental complaint and request for a temporary block in an ongoing case initiated in 2019. On Friday, the judge denied the new filings, stating that the challenge was already being addressed through the Planned Parenthood case. 

The judge in that case issued a temporary restraining order last week, blocking the entire bill. 

“However, it is unclear whether the attorney general will argue that the 15-week ban is encompassed in that order,” the ACLU wrote in a news release. “ACLU-KY needs further clarity from the court or relief that ensures its client will not face penalties for providing abortions at and after 15-weeks.”

Planned Parenthood has provided abortions up to 14 weeks at its Louisville clinic and EMW, up to 22. 

Both organizations temporarily stopped providing them before the judge filed the temporary restraining order. EMW is now capping abortions at 15 weeks, pending clarification from the judge. 

Court filings show that since April 13, they’ve had to turn away 23 patients who were seeking abortions at or after 15 weeks. 

The two are the only abortion providers in the state.

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