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Judge Suspends Kentucky Fetal Heartbeat And Discrimination Abortion Bans

A federal judge barred Kentucky from enforcing two abortion laws Wednesday that recently passed and took effect in the state.

U.S. District Judge David Hale passed an order Wednesday suspending two state abortion bans, one which prohibits abortions in the presence of a fetal heartbeat and another which bans abortions on the basis of race, sex or disability, according to the Louisville  Courier Journal.

Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed Senate Bill 9 on March 15. It “prohibit[s] a person from performing an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat,” according to the legislation. A heartbeat typically becomes detectable between six and nine weeks of gestation. Many women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks.

Bevin also recently signed House Bill 5, “prohibit[ing] an abortion if the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion, in whole or in part, because of an unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, or disability, except in the case of a medical emergency,” according to the legislation. The bill bans “eugenics-based abortions,” according to Bevin’s general counsel, M. Stephen Pitt, the Courier reported.

Both bills were signed under an “emergency” clause and took immediate effect, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Hale suspended both laws after the American Civil Liberties Union, a nonprofit legal and advocacy organization, sued the state challenging the constitutionality of both bills.

“We will continue to hold anti-abortion state legislators accountable as long as they abuse their power to try to push abortion out of reach,” said the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project deputy director, Brigitte Amiri, according to the Journal.

The state is prohibited from enforcing SB9 and HB5 until the court issues a final ruling on the constitutionality of the bills, according to Hale’s Wednesday order.

Kentucky has only one abortion clinic.

Counseling, parental consent and a 24-hour waiting period are also mandatory before a woman can have an abortion under state law, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

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