Federal court dismisses Kentucky abortion lawsuit as moot

Published 11:02 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Steve Bittenbender

The Center Square

A federal court dismissed a lawsuit Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center filed against the state last year regarding an abortion law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly last year.

Email newsletter signup

The order issued by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings was not a surprise. Two months ago, both Planned Parenthood and the Louisville surgical center filed to dismiss their case in district court after discovering in February the state made forms and regulations available allowing facilities to comply with demographic requirements within House Bill 3, which became law last year over Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the case moot in a May 24 opinion and remanded the case to Jennings in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron issued a statement declaring victory in the case.

“Our laws should reflect our values. Kentuckians across the Commonwealth have repeatedly sent pro-life representatives to Frankfort to protect the health and safety of mothers and unborn children,” Cameron said. “That’s exactly what the General Assembly did in 2022 with House Bill 3. I always have and always will stand strong in defense of our pro-life legislation. And because of my office’s work, every word of the Humanity in Healthcare Act is now law.”

On May 5, Cameron opposed the plaintiffs’ motion in the federal district court, claiming it was “a clear attempt at avoiding an unfavorable ruling.” He argued the lower court did not have jurisdiction in the case. Instead, he claimed the appeals court – which ruled three weeks later – had that power.

Cameron, a Republican, is challenging Beshear, the Democratic incumbent, in November’s Kentucky gubernatorial election.

While the order by Jennings ends one court case involving a challenge to Kentucky abortion laws, another continues that seeks to overturn the two state laws on the procedure. One is a trigger law that took effect nearly a year ago after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs vs. Jackson and prohibits abortions with life-saving and disability-preventing exceptions. The other law bans abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.