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Kentucky law restricting D&E abortion method being challenged by ACLU in federal court

The ACLU is suing to block a law recently signed by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, seeking to block a newly-passed law in the state. House Bill 454 was signed by Republican Governor Matt Bevin on Tuesday, and prohibits the abortion method known as dilation and evacuation from being performed on women who are in or past their 11th week of pregnancy.

Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU in Kentucky, said,  "Kentucky politicians have already shut down all but one abortion clinic in our state. Now they want to invade the exam room and stop doctors from providing safe, quality care. It's shameless, insulting and dangerous."

Dilation and evacuation — known as D&E — involves the dismemberment of a fetus, and is a practice commonly performed in second-trimester abortions. Of the 3,312 abortions conducted in Kentucky in 2016, the method was used in 537 of them.

Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, announced, "We're suing Kentucky yet again — this time to stop state politicians from banning a safe abortion method. This law disregards a woman's health and decisions in favor of a narrow ideological agenda."

Before the legislation became law, the ACLU had already warned several times that it would file suit to block it in court.

Governor Bevin's communications director, Elizabeth Kuhn, called the ACLU's lawsuit "disturbing" but not surprising.

She noted that "Kentucky's elected representatives voted overwhelmingly this session to safeguard unborn children against the gruesome practice of live dismemberment abortion. Few issues should be as commonsense as protecting the most vulnerable among us from the horrific act of being torn from limb to limb while still alive."

After its passage by Kentucky's legislature, the bill went into effect immediately once the governor signed it. The ACLU's suit further complained that "The act has forced plaintiffs to cancel the appointments of patients seeking time-sensitive and constitutionally protected health care, and will force them to continue turning patients away."

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