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Kentucky abortion providers stop scheduling procedures

The ACLU of Kentucky said Kentucky has become the first state in the nation to stop scheduling abortion procedures since the passage of Roe v. Wade.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Abortion procedures in Kentucky have stopped as of Thursday, making the state the first state in the nation to stop scheduling procedures since the passage of Roe v. Wade in the 1970s according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

Providers who perform abortions said they can no longer do them because of restrictions now in place under a new law.

Both Planned Parenthood and EMW Women's Surgical Center filed a lawsuit Thursday morning, challenging the new law and claiming it violates Roe v. Wade.

The ACLU of Kentucky is representing EMW in the lawsuit.

House Bill 3, which the Kentucky General Assembly passed by overriding Gov. Andy Beshear's veto, became law Wednesday. 

Nowhere in the 72-page bill did it specifically say abortions are outright banned in Kentucky. 

However, the two abortion providers said because of the restrictions in the new law, they are unable to perform any procedures effective Thursday. The bill had a provision that made it take immediate effect.

"It's disheartening, but we won't stop fighting reproductive care," ACLU of Kentucky Communications Director Angela Cooper said. "It's every Kentuckian's right, and to pretend like a bill like this is actually going to stop abortions from happening is simply untrue. It will stop safe abortions from happening and the people of Kentucky will suffer for it." 

The law adds a variety of restrictions on abortions and the providers that do the procedures.

The provisions consist of an outright ban on all abortions after 15 weeks, a prohibition on telehealth appointments for people who want to get the abortion pill and several new reporting requirements. Those requirements include reporting the age of the patient and how the fetal remains were disposed of.

Providers said in order to comply with the new law, new programs need to be set up by the state. 

Beshear, who vetoed the bill initially, said the funding doesn't exist to create those new programs. 

The new law also requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create a new form to track surgical abortions, medical abortions and possibly stillbirths and miscarriages. 

"We have no idea what that form might look like, whether it will contain patient information or when it would go into effect," Cooper said. "There are just a multitude of unknowns."

Anti-abortion advocates celebrated the General Assembly's override vote of the governor's veto. 

"This is a commonsense law and it's about protecting the unborn," The Family Foundation Executive Director David Walls said. "It's about protecting the health and safety of women in our commonwealth."

Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who recently won a case in the U.S. Supreme Court allowing him to move forward with a lawsuit challenging a 2018 law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, said he intends to defend the new law in court. 

"The General Assembly passed HB 3 to protect life and promote the health and safety of women, and we are prepared to earnestly defend this new law against the legal challenge from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU," Cameron said in a statement Thursday. 

Planned Parenthood asked the judge to file a temporary restraining order to halt the law from taking effect until the court can make a final ruling. 

In 2018, a law outlawing many abortions after 15 weeks passed the legislature.

EMW sued the state in April of that year over the law, again saying it's unconstitutional. Almost a year later, in March 2019, a judge issued that temporary restraining order and EMW started performing abortions again the following day.

Abortion restrictions enacted into law across the country

Florida's governor signed a bill into law Thursday outlawing abortions after a woman reaches her 15th week of pregnancy. That law takes effect on July 1. Abortions would be allowed in Florida after 15 weeks if the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother or prevent serious injury. They could also be performed if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. 

Tuesday, Oklahoma's governor signed a bill into law making it illegal to perform abortions unless it's a medical emergency. Those who do could be penalized with a $100,000 fine and 10 years in prison. The law takes effect in late August. 

In Texas, all abortions are prohibited after a heartbeat is detected, which normally occurs around 6 weeks. That law took effect in September 2021.

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