15-week abortion ban blocked by federal court, ACLU of Kentucky challenge to House Bill 3 continues
The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky today clarified that the entirety of House Bill 3 is blocked, including all regulations and the blanket ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court also granted the ACLU of Kentucky's request to join Planned Parenthood's lawsuit challenging the law.
The ACLU of Kentucky sought a temporary restraining order against HB3’s new regulations and 15-week ban immediately after it became law. ACLU-KY sought permission from the court to add the HB3 challenge to an existing lawsuit against Kentucky’s 6-week abortion ban and ban on abortion based on the reasons a person is seeking care. Planned Parenthood filed a separate case and sought emergency relief from HB3’s restrictions. They did not bring a substantive challenge to the 15-week ban because they do not provide care after 14 weeks. The judge in that case granted a temporary restraining order on April 21, blocking HB3 in its entirety.
However, it was unclear whether the attorney general could argue that the 15-week ban was not encompassed in that order since Planned Parenthood did not bring a substantive challenge to that provision. ACLU-KY needed further clarity from the court that its client would not face penalties for providing abortions at and after 15 weeks.
On Friday, April 22, Judge Hale of the US District Court for the Western District of Kentucky denied ACLU-KY's request to add the challenge to the 15-week ban to the existing lawsuit against the 6-week and Reason Bans. Consequently, Judge Hale denied the request for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked enforcement of the 15-week ban.
On Monday, April 25, the ACLU of Kentucky filed a motion to intervene in the pending Planned Parenthood case, and also filed a motion to clarify that the judge’s order enjoined the 15-week ban. On Tuesday, April 26, Judge Jennings granted ACLU-KY's motion to join the case and clarified that her April 21 order does block the entirety of House Bill 3, including the 15-week ban. The ACLU of Kentucky will attend a preliminary injunction hearing 10AM ET, Monday, May 2.
The ACLU of Kentucky's client, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, can now resume providing abortions up to 21 weeks and 6 days, the limit allowed under Kentucky law before House Bill 3 was enacted. From the time when HB3 took effect on April 13, 2022, until today's action from the court, patients could not seek an abortion in Kentucky after 15 weeks. Patients should contact EMW Women’s Surgical Center or Planned Parenthood to schedule an appointment. They can also contact Kentucky Health Justice Network to learn more about abortion care and seek assistance with costs, travel, lodging, and more.