Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Kentucky Abortion Bans Violate State Constitution

In EMW Women's Surgical Center v. Cameron, (KY Cir. Ct., July 22, 2022), a Kentucky state trial court issued a temporary injunction against enforcement of two statutes restricting abortions-- a six-week fetal heartbeat ban, and a ban on almost all abortions triggered by the overruling of Roe v. Wade. Relying on provisions of the Kentucky state constitution, the court found that the Trigger Ban constituted an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the U.S. Supreme Court, and also concluded that the law is unconstitutionally vague. the court concluded that the six-week ban violates provisions of the Kentucky constitution protecting the right to privacy, equal protection and the prohibition on the establishment of religion and the protection of the free exercise of religion. The court said in part:

Defendants' witnesses ... argue that life begins at the very moment of fertilization and as such is entitled to full constitutional protection at that point. However, this is a distinctly Christian and Catholic belief. Other faiths hold a wide variety of views on when life begins and at what point a fetus should be recognized as an independent human being....

The General Assembly is not permitted to single out and endorse the doctrine of a favored faith for preferred treatment.... There is nothing in our laws or history that allows for such theocratic based policymaking.

AP reports on the decision.

UPDATE: A Kentucky appellate court lifted the injunction while the case is on appeal, and the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to reinstate the injunction but set the case for argument on Nov. 15. An ACLU press release reports on these developments.