SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade; Kentucky ‘trigger law’ now in effect

Published 12:52 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

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The United States Supreme Court reversed close to 50 years of federally protected access to abortion services Friday morning in a decision that has been expected for months after a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico indicating that the nation’s highest court was on the verge of a historic shift on civil rights.

The decision was issued regarding a case from Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization. In 2018 the Mississippi state legislature passed the Gestational Age Act which banned abortion procedures after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest, just severe medical emergencies and fetal abnormality.

Judges from the U.S District Court for the Southern District from Mississippi and the U.S. Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled that the Mississippi law was unconstitutional.

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Five justices joined in the majority opinion that there is no specific right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution:  Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a concurring opinion that he would not have overturned Roe v. Wade but did agree that the Mississippi law was constitutional.

Three justices dissented against the majority: Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The decision in Washington has immediate impact in Kentucky.

The commonwealth is one of 13 states with a “trigger law” on the books that outlawed abortion services the second the Supreme Court handed down its ruling.

The law in question was passed in 2019 and signed into law by then Gov. Matt Bevin.

The law states that  no person in Kentucky may “administer to, prescribe for, procure for, or sell to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, or other substance with the specific intent  of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human” or “use or employ any instrument or procedure upon a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being.”

Under the law, anyone who performs an abortion service would be charged with a class D felony which if charged would carry one to five years of jail time.