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'I want to think about it': Judge considers whether to temporarily resume abortions in Kentucky, as lawsuit plays out

The ACLU of Kentucky and Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit against Attorney General Daniel Cameron, claiming the state constitution protects abortion rights.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On the heels of a freshly filed lawsuit against Kentucky's Attorney General, a Jefferson County Circuit Court judge will decide whether to temporarily allow abortions to resume in the state.

In a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Judge Mitch Perry said he's weighing a request from the ACLU of Kentucky to issue a temporary restraining order on two Kentucky abortion bans -- both the 2019 'trigger law' and a six-week law that was previously blocked by a federal court.

He said it's a decision he'll have to "wrestle with," but due to the urgency of the matter, he said he will make a choice quickly.

"I'll try to do it first thing today or later tomorrow, but I want to think about it," Perry said.

If granted, the order would allow Louisville clinics to continue administering the procedure immediately for what would likely be several days, while the courtroom hears testimony next week.

"Witnesses and more proof to support our claims for why these laws should be blocked," said Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney with the ACLU. "Kentucky courts have actually held that our privacy rights are actually more protective and broader and has been held to protect things that even the U.S. Supreme Court wasn't yet protecting."

Anti-abortion groups Kentucky Right to Life and The Family Foundation applauded Cameron's efforts.

"Right now, lives are being saved here in the Commonwealth and anything that undoes that would do harm to the Commonwealth and the babies in the womb," The Family Foundation Executive Director David Walls said.

The lawsuit argues the right to an abortion is protected in Kentucky's constitution, citing Kentuckians' right to privacy and bodily autonomy.

But the Attorney General's Office is staying firm in its statement, saying no fundamental right to abortion is contained within the state constitution.

The lawsuit is on behalf of Louisville's two abortion clinics and a health care provider.

The AG's office argues the patients can't claim their rights are being violated as a third-party in the suit. 

"They were not in the courtroom whatsoever. It was the business entities that were performing the services that were there," said Addia Wuchner, executive director at Kentucky Right to Life.

But Gatnarek said the clinics are speaking on behalf of their patients.

"There is harm being suffered here by patients who are either going to be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will and possibly against doctors' order," she said.

Perry will decide next week whether to then issue a longer-term, temporary injunction following testimony. Essentially, the injunction would serve as another hold on abortion bans as the lawsuit plays out. 

Abortion advocates said clinics would be ready to go immediately to perform abortions if and when bans are blocked, for who WHAS11 is told is hundreds of women waiting on services -- including those who had appointments canceled moments after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.

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