Just hours after Governor Matt Bevin signed Kentucky’s fetal heartbeat bill into law on Friday, a federal judge temporarily blocked it.
The law was set to become one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country. It would block abortions occurring after a fetal heartbeat was detected, which is typically detectable by six weeks into a pregnancy. Considering 90 percent of abortions in Kentucky take place later than the six-week marker, the law would serve to effectively limit almost all abortions in the state, excluding those that are necessary to prevent death or serious harm to the mother.
Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky immediately placed a temporary halt on the enforcement of the law. He argued that the new law is potentially unconstitutional and that he wanted to “prevent irreparable harm.” The temporary ban halts enforcement for 14 days so that Hale has time to hold a hearing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit to challenge the measure. Brigitte Amiri, ACLU deputy director of the Reproductive Freedom Project, commented Saturday:
We think this is a very straightforward legal issue…States can’t ban abortion. It has been well settled over 40 years ago in Roe v. Wade.
This lawsuit was filed on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. The center is the only remaining licensed abortion clinic in the state.
Governor Bevin’s office is unwavering in their support for the measure, noting that the legal challenge is not unexpected. “This case or others like it from other states will result in major changes in abortions in the U.S. in the near future,” stated Steve Pitt, general counsel to Bevin. “The ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and others favoring unlimited abortions know this and are in a panic.”
Bevin has relentlessly pushed a pro-life agenda in Kentucky, and has welcomed the chance to bring this fight to the courts. “They frankly don’t care whether they are following the law or not,” he argued. “They simply want to push their ideology.”
While the future of the law is uncertain, one thing is for sure: Kentucky’s pro-life community has a long legal battle in front of them.