Kentucky Supreme Court upholds state laws protecting preborn children

A legal battle over pro-life laws in Kentucky has seemingly come to an end, as the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that two state laws protecting nearly all preborn children from abortion can stand.

In the ruling, two laws were allowed to remain in place. The first, a heartbeat law, protects preborn children from abortion once a heartbeat can be detected, typically around six weeks gestation/LMP. The second is a trigger law, which protects virtually all preborn children from abortion, and took effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

After a lawsuit from the abortion industry, the laws were initially blocked by a circuit court, but eventually, were allowed to remain. In the ruling, Justice Debra Hembree Lambert said the circuit court “abused its discretion by granting abortion provider’s motion for a temporary injunction.” The court also said the abortion industry did not show it was being sufficiently harmed to warrant an injunction against the laws.

“The abortion providers do not have third-party standing to challenge the trigger ban or the heartbeat ban on the grounds that those statutes violated their patients’ constitutional rights, and they do not have first-party, constitutional standing to challenge the heartbeat ban,” the ruling reads, further explaining, “The abortion providers do not have third-party standing to assert the constitutional rights of their patients. They therefore have presented no arguments against the heartbeat ban that this Court can address to provide them relief leaving the redressability prong of constitutional standing unsatisfied as to the heartbeat ban.”

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Both NARAL and the ACLU condemned the ruling. “NARAL will never stop working alongside our partners to restore abortion access in the state and will continue to hold accountable those who are trampling our rights and freedoms at every turn,” NARAL President Mini Timmaraju said, while the ACLU — representing Planned Parenthood — said the Supreme Court “failed to protect the health and safety of nearly a million people.”

Yet many are still celebrating the ruling, despite the anger from the abortion industry.

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade last June, we have vigorously defended Kentucky’s Human Life Protection Act and Heartbeat Law,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a statement. “We are very pleased that Kentucky’s high court has allowed these laws to remain in effect while the case proceeds in circuit court. This is a significant victory, and we will continue to stand up for the unborn by defending these laws.”

Yet some are still warning that more work needs to be done. “As we know, our mission is not complete,” Rep. Nancy Tate said at a rally at the Capitol. “We have so many other issues that are facing us, from conception to natural death, that we need to continue to discern and make sure that the people representing us represent our Christian basis, our Christian beliefs.”

“The tide is finally turning in favor of protecting all human life,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said. Liberty Counsel had previously filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and the Frederick Douglass Foundation in defense of the pro-life laws. “The right to life is the right of all rights. Without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.”

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