KY Supreme Court rules to continue abortion ban in the Commonwealth

KY Supreme Court rules to continue abortion ban in the Commonwealth
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 6:31 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has refused to allow abortions to resume in the state, rejecting a request to halt enforcement of a near-total ban on abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned last June.

The court weighed challenges to both the state’s ban and a separate one that outlaws abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Dr. Jeffrey Budziak, associate professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University, said today’s ruling could not only affect women’s health, rather the state of Kentucky as a whole.

“In the short term, it is going to mean that women cannot access abortion in Kentucky, or can do so under very limited circumstances,” said Dr. Budziak. “Even in the long term, we are no closer to answering the question of ‘what does our constitution say about abortion?’ than we were the day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.”

Decisions in the case of Roe v. Wade may have played a factor in the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision. Decisions like who is able to file suit, and who is not.

“They overturned a bunch of the other court’s abortion decisions related to things like who is able to sue. What they said is, because the Supreme Court now says that abortion providers do not automatically have a third-party standing, we are going to conclude that they cannot sue on behalf of their patients, ” said Dr. Budziak.

Budziak said if these cases want to proceed, third-party providers like Planned Parenthood, will need new, clearer arguments about how the organization itself is affected by abortion laws, or patients being affected need to sue on their own behalf.

He said the latter may be the more difficult option.

“What the Kentucky Supreme Court said today is that the Supreme Court, in effect, struck that principle down when it struck down Roe v. Wade and all of the cases that went with it,” said Dr. Budziak. “That means abortion providers in Kentucky can no longer sue on behalf of their patients unless they can show that they were directly injured.”

The Kentucky Supreme Court’s opinion makes it clear that today’s ruling does not determine the constitutionality of abortion in Kentucky.