Reproductive rights advocates on Thursday welcomed a federal judge's ruling that temporarily blocked Kentucky's new anti-choice law, allowing the state's two clinics that offered abortions to continue doing so for the next two weeks.
"This is a win but it is only a first step."
"Abortion remains legal and is once again available in Kentucky," Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky who represented one of the two clinics, said in a statement following the decision. "We will always fight to keep it that way here and across the country."
Rebecca Gibron, who heads the six-state Planned Parenthood group that includes Kentucky, said that "this is a win but it is only a first step. We're prepared to fight for our patients' right to basic health in court and to continue doing everything in our power [to] ensure abortion access is permanently secured in Kentucky."
Republican state lawmakers last week overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's veto of a sweeping 15-week abortion ban, forcing the state's only two providers of the medical procedure to stop offering care.
Planned Parenthood, the national ACLU, and the ACLU of Kentucky almost immediately announced a legal challenge seeking a temporary restraining order against the new law, arguing that its authors made compliance impossible by design because the state has not yet issued concise guidelines.
In her order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings—who was appointed by then-President Donald Trump—blocked the entire law for 14 days, explaining she needed more information "to specifically determine which individual provisions and subsections are capable of compliance."
Kentucky is one of numerous GOP-led states that have recently passed laws restricting reproductive freedom, and the state is one of more than 20 with so-called "trigger laws" that would automatically ban nearly all abortions in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court—which has a conservative supermajority—overturns Roe v. Wade.
Advocates have called on the U.S. Senate to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe into federal law. Although the proposed legislation passed the House of Representatives last September, right-wing West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin joined Senate Republicans in blocking the measure in February.