FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal court of appeals decision that threw out a Kentucky law restricting use of a common method of abortion.
Legislation known as House Bill 454 passed the Kentucky General Assembly in 2018 and was signed into law by then-Gov. Matt Bevin, outlawing the use of a procedure called dilation and evacuation, which is the most common method of abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy.
Specifically, the bill stated, “No person shall intentionally perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman:
“(a) That will result in the bodily dismemberment, crushing, or human vivisection of the unborn child; and
“(b) When the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is eleven (11) weeks or greater; except in the case of a medical emergency.”
The ACLU of Kentucky, on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, filed a lawsuit at U.S. District Court in Louisville to halt enforcement of the new law. They claimed it amounted to an unconstitutional ban on a procedure they term the "safest and most common method" of second-trimester abortions.
After a trial in November 2018, U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. ruled in May 2019 that the law would create a "substantial obstacle" to a woman's right to an abortion, violating constitutionally protected privacy rights.
The Bevin administration then appealed that ruling to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which heard arguments on the case this past January, and the three-judge panel in June, on a 2-1 vote, upheld the lower court’s permanent injunction that keeps the law from taking effect.
Five days later, the U.S. Supreme Court decided June Medical Services, L.L.C. v. Russo, an important case regarding the states’ ability to regulate abortions.
In his petition, Cameron argues that given the ruling in June Medical, the Supreme Court should vacate the Sixth Circuit’s judgment and require the lower court to consider, once again, the constitutionality of House Bill 454.
In addition, Cameron asks the justices to consider whether a state attorney general should be allowed to intervene to defend a state law, after a federal court of appeals invalidates it and no other state official will defend it.
“The passage of House Bill 454 by the General Assembly represents Kentucky’s profound respect for the dignity of human life, and I will pursue every means available to make sure this important law is upheld,” said Attorney General Cameron. “We’ve fought to defend this law since our first day in office, and now, I’m asking our nation’s highest court to consider it.”
The high court has not yet decided whether or not to hear the case.