BOWLING GREEN, March 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In the latest abortion-related legal battle to hit the state, a federal judge has temporarily blocked Kentucky officials from implementing their newly-enacted law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Signed Friday by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, the law requires abortionists to check for a fetal heartbeat before aborting. If a heartbeat is found, committing the abortion would be a Class D felony (punishable by up to five years in prison) except in cases of medical emergencies, which would also have to be documented.
The same day Bevin signed the law, Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky issued an injunction against the law’s enforcement for at least fourteen days, the New York Times reports, pending a hearing on its constitutionality.
Hale was ruling on a suit brought by the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against both the heartbeat law and legislation that passed the legislature Thursday to ban abortions specifically sought on the basis of a baby’s race, sex, or disability. Bevin has yet to sign the latter bill, and Hale did not rule on it.
ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project deputy director Brigitte Amiri called the injunction a “tremendous relief,” noting Saturday that EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the state’s only licensed abortion facility, “sees patients today, and before we got the ruling yesterday, they were in the process of canceling appointments.”
“This case or others like it from other states will result in major changes in abortions in the U.S. in the near future,” Bevin’s general counsel Steve Pitt responded. “The ACLU, Planned Parenthood and others favoring unlimited abortions know this and are in a panic.”
Bevin himself, who has pledged to defend pro-life laws with his own legal team because Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear won’t, issued his own video response to the ACLU Friday evening:
People that are supposedly defending the civic rights of people in this country nonetheless think it's appropriate that you can kill a child based on its race, or kill a child based on its gender,” he said. “The people of Kentucky again, fortunately, don't agree with that and, so this law was passed through the legislature. It has not actually become a law at this point, but that didn't stop the folks at the ACLU from filing a lawsuit against something that doesn't actually yet exist. Certainly it speaks volumes about their priorities and the way in which they frankly don't care whether they're following the law or not. They simply want to be able to push their ideology.
Bevin then gave the ACLU a “reminder” of “how the legislative process actually works” by playing Schoolhouse Rock’s classic “I’m Just a Bill” educational video on how legislation becomes law.
Heartbeat laws represent a rightward shift in state pro-life policy efforts, and would prevent far more abortions than more common ultrasound laws or bans on late-term and dismemberment abortion techniques. But because they also ban abortion far earlier than viability, some Republicans and even some pro-life organizations argue they only invite costly and futile lawsuits.
But their advocates contend such lawsuits are necessary to eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, which they see as more possible after President Donald Trump has appointed two justices to the federal bench. Republican state Rep. Robert Goforth, the law’s sponsor, has said that such a fight would be worthwhile for helping bring about the “day our laws and our court system give unborn children the legal right to life that they deserve so they can grow and live happy and productive lives.”