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'Substantial obstacle.' Appeals court affirms rejection of Kentucky abortion law

The law passed in 2018 was struck down last year by a federal judge in Frankfort.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal appeals court has agreed with a lower court that a Kentucky law seeking to ban a common second trimester abortion procedure is illegal.

The law passed in 2018 was struck down last year by a federal judge in Frankfort. The judge ruled it creates a “substantial obstacle” to a woman’s right to an abortion.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling on Tuesday. The Kentucky attorney general’s office argued on behalf of the law before the appeals court in January.  

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The law, signed by then-Governor Matt Bevin in April 2018, would have prevented patients from being able to get the care they need, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion in another state or forgo the care entirely, according to the ACLU of Kentucky.

ACLU of Kentucky released this statement on the ruling:

“As the court recognized today, Kentucky’s law had no medical basis, and would have harmed patients seeking safe, constitutionally protected medical care, said Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. The state has no business dictating what care physicians can give their patients or banning certain procedures just to advance an anti-abortion agenda.”

“Two courts have made it resoundingly clear that D&E abortion care is safe, and Kentuckians have a right to access this care,” said Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky. The Court of Appeals confirms what we’ve been asserting for years: The Kentucky General Assembly’s attempt to ban D&E abortion care is unconstitutional because it imposes a substantial burden on the right to choose. Our clients are relieved they will be guided by medicine, not politicians, when providing D&E care to their patients.”

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