Supreme Court allows Kentucky AG to defend state’s abortion law

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – Attorney General Daniel Cameron Monday announced that the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal of the case involving Kentucky’s live dismemberment abortion law (House Bill 454).  The law, passed by the General Assembly in 2018, prohibits abortionists from performing gruesome Dilation and Evacuation procedures (D&E) on a living unborn child.

“I promised Kentuckians that I would defend our laws all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and that’s what we’ve done,” Cameron said in a release. “Since day one in office, we’ve fought to defend House Bill 454, even when the Beshear Administration refused to defend it. This law reflects the conscience of Kentucky by banning the gruesome practice of live dismemberment abortions, and it’s important that Kentuckians have a voice before our nation’s highest court. I was elected to provide that voice, and we look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court.”

Last year, Cameron’s team defended House Bill 454 on behalf of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, according to the release. The Sixth Circuit upheld an injunction against the law by a 2-1 vote, and the Beshear Administration refused to appeal and continue defending the law.

Within two days of learning the Beshear Administration would not appeal, Cameron moved to intervene in the case and continue defending the law, according to the release. When the Sixth Circuit did not allow the Attorney General to intervene, he asked the Supreme Court to consider whether he should be allowed to defend the law on behalf of Kentuckians.

Julie Burkhart, a former advisor to Dr. George Tiller and founder and CEO of Trust Women, a health and reproductive rights organization that opens clinics in underserved states throughout the country reacted Monday to this morning’s Supreme Court’s ruling.

“This is an alarming and disturbing day for reproductive rights and justice in the United States,” Burkhart said in a release. “By contemplating further restrictions on abortion, we are only contributing to the detriment of women’s health in this country.

“Abortion care in states like Kentucky is quickly becoming essentially non-existent, despite still being legal in all 50 states. The damage these bills of targeted regulations and litigation has had on women’s health so far has been devastating.  For years, anti-abortion legislators have pushed the limits of Roe by keeping abortion technically legal, while at the same time reducing access to critical health care for their constituents.”

According to a 2020 report from the CDC, the United States’ maternal mortality rate lags far behind other countries, ranking 55th—just behind Russia. This is especially distressing when placed in context of a study from the Center for Reproductive Rights finding “that the more abortion restrictions a state has, the worse women and children’s health outcomes in the state are,” the release from Trust Women read.

Cameron’s office will argue the case before the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, with a decision expected later this year or early next year.