Battle begins over strict KY abortion law

Battle begins over strict KY abortion law
Volunteers say tension outside Kentucky's only abortion clinic is rising as the law gets more restrictive. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A bill that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy was signed into law Friday, making Kentucky one of the most restrictive states when it comes to abortion.

Senate Bill 9 bans abortions if a heartbeat is detected, which usually happens around six weeks.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), 90% of abortions in Kentucky occur after six weeks.

The law’s emergency clause meant it went into effect immediately after it was signed by Gov. Matt Bevin at 12 a.m. Friday, March 15.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville was forced to cancel scheduled abortions in response.

"Women woke up on Friday morning not knowing whether or not they could obtain an abortion in the state of Kentucky,” ACLU staff attorney Heather Gatnarek said.

The ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit on behalf of the EMW Clinic, calling SB 9 blatantly unconstitutional.

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"The law essentially bans the vast majority of abortions and the Supreme Court has stated over and over again that states cannot do that,” Gatnarek said.

The procedures resumed Saturday after the federal judge who will rule on the case granted a temporary hold on the law.

But the battle is far from over.

SB 9 was not the only law passed in Kentucky regarding abortion during this legislative session. The ACLU will also challenge House Bill 5, which prohibits abortion because of an unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, or disability, except in the case of a medical emergency.

Bevin posted on Twitter in regard to the lawsuit, challenging the ACLU to “bring it.”

Meanwhile, pro-life group 40 Days for Life has vowed to spend every day and night until Easter praying outside of EMW.

“If that avenue (abortion) is cut off they’ll be like, 'Okay can I give my child up for adoption. What other avenues can I take,’” Linda Grijalba said. ”So, I am supportive of it (the law) because it does bring light to other alternatives than that.”

Ashley Jacobs volunteers as a patient escort. As the state’s abortion laws get more restrictive, she says tensions outside of the clinic are growing.

“It definitely adds to the stigma of abortion services that already exist because you are just reinforcing the idea that there’s something wrong with having an abortion when there’s not, it’s health care,” Jacobs said. “It’s your constitutional right.”

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