Kentucky's attorney general takes argument to defend a state abortion law to the U.S. Supreme Court

Oct 12, 2021

Credit Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard a case from the Kentucky attorney general’s office which could allow Attorney General Daniel Cameron to argue in favor of an abortion law that was passed by state lawmakers in 2018 but hit a legal challenge and was stopped from going into effect.

The case is Cameron v. EMW Women's Surgical Center. It centers on HB 454 which became law three years ago but was stuck down in federal court. It prohibits dilation and evacuation abortions, procedures that are common in the second trimester of pregnancy.

“In 2018 when this law passed, it passed with bipartisan support meaning Republicans and Democrats,” said Cameron in a press conference following oral arguments. “I think it expresses the values and the compassion of Kentuckians to say that if this procedure is to occur, we do not want the child to feel pain in the womb. The dilation and evacuation procedure is gruesome.”

Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky responded, “The reality is that D&E abortions are incredibly common in the second trimester and very safe procedures. Medical journals, medical groups have confirmed this is by far the safest and most effective second-trimester abortion procedure to be performed for people at this stage of pregnancy.”

The Supreme Court Justices aren’t looking at the law itself, rather Cameron’s ability to fight for it.

“What this case is about is state sovereignty and the ability of this office as contemplated by the general assembly to be a fail-safe.” Cameron said, “If any other office whether it be the governor’s office or a cabinet or department decides not to defend laws, this office stands as a fail-safe to defend all appeals.”

But Gatnarek said her organization believes it’s too late.

“We have a really strong case to make here that the attorney general’s office was dismissed from this action early on, never filed a notice of appeal at the sixth circuit and can’t now try to intervene in the case at the 11th hour just because he didn’t like the decision.”

This is the first case being heard regarding abortion by the now conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.