Saying they are probably unconstitutional, judge extends ruling blocking two Kentucky laws that would greatly limit abortion

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Saying Kentucky laws limiting access to abortion likely violate the state constitution, a Louisville judge has blocked them from taking effect until lawsuits challenging them are over.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry “systematically rejected” arguments for the “trigger law” written to ban almost all abortions when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its Roe v. Wade decision, and another law banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, reports Deborah Yetter of The Courier Journal.

Perry had issued a temporary restraining order against the laws when the state’s two abortion clinics filed suit, arguing that the laws violate a right to privacy created by the Kentucky Constitution. The state Supreme Court has found such a right, but has not extended it to abortion. Perry said, in effect, that it should.

“The fundamental right for a woman to control her own body free from governmental interference outweighs a state interest in potential fetal life before viability,” Perry wrote. Having a child “is a decision that has perhaps the greatest impact on a person’s life and as such is best left to the individual to make, free from unnecessary governmental interference.”

Perry said there is a “substantial likelihood” that both laws violate the constitution. That is perhaps the most important criterion for blocking a law passed by the General Assembly.

He said the six-week law arguably “violates state constitutional rights to privacy, self-determination, equal protection for women, and religious freedom,” reports Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“Only in the context of pregnancy is a woman’s bodily autonomy taken away from her,” Perry wrote. “This is a burden that falls directly, and only, on females. It is inescapable therefore, that these laws discriminate on the basis of sex.” He added that Attorney General Daniel Cameron and other defenders of the law “have proffered no legitimate reason why the woman must bear all the burdens of these laws while the man carries none.”

Perry said the “trigger law” may have improperly delegated the legislature’s authority to the U.S. Supreme Court, “and could be considered unconstitutionally vague over questions of when to begin enforcement,” Estep reports. “Cameron said he would appeal the ruling, which could affect the status” of the injunction.

The Nov. 8 ballot has a referendum on a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare the state constitution creates no right to abortion or government funding of it.

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Written by Al Cross. Cross-posted from Kentucky Health News.

Kentucky Health News

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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