A federal judge Friday blocked a Kentucky law that would ban abortions when a heartbeat is detected, ruling that the plaintiffs in the case had “shown a strong likelihood of success.”
The injunction by U.S. District Judge David Hale blocks a law that bans such abortions unless they are required to save a woman’s life or to prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” of the woman.
It passed the state Senate, 31-6, and the House, 71-19. Both are controlled by Republicans. GOP Gov. Matt Bevin signed it Friday. The ACLU sued on behalf of Louisville’s EMW Women's Surgical Center, which performs abortions.
“The fundamental right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes the right to choose to have an abortion, subject to certain limitations,” wrote Hale, who was nominated by President Obama.
“The Supreme Court,” Hale wrote, “has stated in no uncertain terms that ‘[r]egardless of whether exceptions are made for particular circumstances, a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.’”
The temporary injunction expires 14 days from the date it was issued, although Hale by then could release a permanent injunction. Other states, including Arkansas, North Dakota and Iowa, have passed heartbeat bills, only to see them blocked in federal court.
The law’s findings say the Commonwealth of Kentucky “has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of an unborn human individual who may be born.” More than 90 percent of pregnancies “survive the first trimester if cardiac activity is detected,” the findings say.
“In order to make an informed choice about whether to continue her pregnancy, the pregnant woman has a legitimate interest in knowing the likelihood of the fetus surviving to full-term birth based upon the presence of cardiac activity,” the findings say.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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