Kentucky judge revives state’s near-total abortion ban

A judge in Kentucky on Monday night revived the state’s near-total ban on abortion, the latest legal development following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The ruling by a state appeals court judge temporarily lifted a lower court order that had blocked Kentucky’s law, which bans abortion with exceptions only to protect the life or health of the mother, but not for rape or incest.

“I appreciate the court’s decision to allow Kentucky’s pro-life laws to take effect while we continue to vigorously defend the constitutionality of these important protections for women and unborn children across the Commonwealth,” state Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) wrote on Twitter after the ruling.

The move brings the number of states with abortion bans to 10, with more expected in coming weeks. Other abortion-restrictive states, primarily in the South and Midwest, have imposed other limits on the procedure after the toppling of Roe v. Wade in late June eliminated the nearly 50-year constitutional right to abortion up to around 24 weeks.

Abortion rights advocates denounced the Monday ruling by Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Larry E. Thompson.

“Today is a devastating day for all Kentuckians,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. “Abortion is essential health care, and it is irresponsible and dangerous to prevent people from accessing the care they need.”

The conservative Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to strike down Roe handed states virtually unfettered authority to regulate abortion, leading to the ongoing emergence of a complex patchwork of laws across the country.

Abortion rights advocates have increasingly turned to courts to argue that state constitutions contain Roe-like protections for abortion. Kentucky in November will vote on an initiative to amend the state’s constitution to say it does not protect abortion.