The nation’s highest court heard arguments Tuesday, Oct. 12, in a case involving a Kentucky law that protects unborn babies from dismemberment abortions.

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court does not directly concern abortion rights, but focuses on a procedural issue, according to The Hill.

Now the court’s justices are considering whether Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron can take up the defense of the pro-life law after Gov. Andy Beshear declined to do so and after the law was struck down by lower courts.

The case arose when EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s only abortion clinic along with two of its abortion doctors, filed a lawsuit alleging that House Bill 454, imposed an unconstitutional burden on abortion access. 

In 2018, Kentucky state lawmakers passed the law banning a common method of second-trimester abortion, known as “dilation and evacuation,” when Republican and pro-life Governor Matt Bevin was in office.

Bevin’s administration defended the law in court after the EMW abortion clinic in Louisville filed the lawsuit and pro-abortion Democrat Beshear, who was serving as the state’s attorney general at the time, refused to defend it.

When the federal judge in Louisville struck down the law in 2019, it prompted an appeal from the state’s Republican-led administration. But last year that ruling was again upheld.

Then in 2020, a federal judge blocked the law, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. When the Beshear administration decided not to appeal, Cameron filed a motion to intervene in the case.

As reported by Lifenews, Cameron at the time said, “We’re exhausting every possible option to ensure that this law continues to be defended and is ultimately enforced.”

He added: “The law extends compassion and dignity to the unborn by ensuring they are not subjected to the horror and pain of the dismemberment process while still alive.”

“We would never allow the dismemberment of any other living being, and we are going to continue fighting, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, so that it can’t happen to unborn children,” the current Attorney General assured.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and an attorney arguing on behalf of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, said: 

“Two courts already held that this law violates the rights of Kentuckians,” adding that, “he Supreme Court ought to put an end to the attorney general’s attempts to force people to continue their pregnancies against their will.”

Meanwhile, Kentucky Assistant Attorney General Matthew Kuhn told the Washington Examiner that it would be “deeply troubling” for a federal court to prevent a state from upholding its laws.

In December, the Supreme Court will additionally take up a case on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. This directly challenges the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case, which first recognized abortion before about 24 weeks as a constitutional right.

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