Kentucky’s omnibus anti-abortion bill partially blocked in federal court | News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – A federal judge enjoined several major components of a multi-faceted anti-abortion bill on Thursday following a month of legal proceedings.

Kentucky’s two abortion providers, EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit against House Bill 3 immediately after the legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Andy Beshear in April. While the measure modifies and strengthens multiple areas of Kentucky’s restrictive abortion laws, the clinics sued on the basis that they could not immediately comply with certain provisions because the mandated forms did not yet exist.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which is responsible for developing the forms required by HB 3, argued that the bill is an unfunded mandate. The General Assembly did not appropriate any funds to the Cabinet in the bill.


U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings blocked all 16 sections of the law imposing requirements on the Cabinet “as long as HB 3 remains unfunded or until such time as the forms, regulations, and programs are implemented by the Cabinet,” noting that under Kentucky law “a bill that requires funding to execute but does not contain a funding provision cannot immediately take effect.”

EMW also challenged the 15-week abortion ban grafted into HB 3, but Jennings issued a stay on that portion of the law until the Supreme Court rules in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this summer. The issue at hand for the high court in that case is another 15-week abortion ban, but Mississippi also asked for Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey — two landmark abortion rights cases — to be overturned.

Jennings did note that the 15-week ban presented a substantial obstacle to “a constitutionally protected right to a pre-viability abortion under the Fourteenth Amendment,” creating “an undue burden in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”


“Kentuckians can breathe a sigh of relief that these extreme restrictions will remain blocked and abortion will remain accessible for now,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky. “For nearly a week, we were blocked from providing this critical and time-sensitive health care. We can’t go back. Planned Parenthood will work day by day to safeguard the ability of our patients to access essential health care, no matter what.”


“Abortion remains legal and available in Kentucky and we will always fight to keep it that way,” said Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney at ACLU Kentucky. 

Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life, said Thursday’s ruling isn’t the end.

“We’re disappointed in Judge Jennings’ ruling today, but we trust that the Attorney General and his team will be moving us forward through the appellate process,” Wuchner said.

“Today’s order by the Federal District Court stopping enforcement of certain provisions of the Humanity in Healthcare Act (House Bill 3) is disappointing, but this case is far from over,” said Attorney General Daniel Cameron in a statement. “We immediately filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals and will take every available measure to continue defending this important law, which protects unborn life and women’s health.”

The ruling left little of HB 3’s sweeping provisions intact, and abortion services can continue as normal in Kentucky until the Cabinet develops the forms and programs mandated by the bill or the Supreme Court follows through with a leaked draft opinion indicating their willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade. Kentucky has a trigger ban that would immediately make abortions illegal in the commonwealth if the high court throws out Roe and returns abortion regulation to the states.

Read More: Kentucky’s omnibus anti-abortion bill partially blocked in federal court | News

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