Thursday, May 31, 2018

Federal judge sets trial date for state's ban on most common type of second-trimester abortion; meanwhile, law remains suspended

A federal judge has ruled that a new law banning a common abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, or D&E, after roughly 11 weeks will not be enforced in Kentucky until after a trial is held in November.

The order from Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley set the trial for Nov. 13 after vacating the preliminary injunction hearing that had been scheduled June 5.

The new law banning the procedure, except in cases of medical emergencies, was House Bill 454, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence. It passed the state Senate 31-5, and the House 75-13. The law went into effect immediately after Gov. Matt Bevin signed it on April 10.

McKinley delayed the enforcement of the law through a joint consent order April 12 after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit arguing that the law is unconstitutional. A federal court struck down a ban on the procedure in Texas, and similar bans have been temporarily blocked in other states while they await litigation.

A D&E abortion, which is the most common kind of second-trimester abortion, involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus using suction and surgical tools. If the law is upheld, abortion providers found in violation would be guilty of a felony that carries a prison sentence. Women undergoing the procedure would not be prosecuted.

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