Kentucky woman roughly eight weeks pregnant files lawsuit challenging state abortion bans

Timothy D. Easley/AP

Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky.



CNN

A Kentucky woman who is approximately eight weeks pregnant and seeking an abortion filed a class action lawsuit Friday challenging the state’s two abortion bans.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed the suit in Jefferson County Circuit Court to challenge the state’s trigger law and six-week abortion ban because “the government denied her access to the care she needed,” American Civil Liberties Union said in a news release.

This is the first time a pregnant woman in Kentucky has filed a lawsuit of this kind, ACLU of Kentucky spokeswoman Angela Cooper told CNN.

The lawsuit, filed by Jane Doe and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky, comes one day after a Texas judge ruled Kate Cox, a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant, was allowed to receive emergency care abortion.

Cox’s lawsuit is believed to be one of the first attempts in the country by a person seeking a legal abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, according to the New York Times. The decision to allow her to have an abortion also marks a significant development in the ongoing debate over Texas’ medical exemption from the controversial six-week abortion ban — one of the strictest in the nation.

In Kentucky, the trigger law, which was passed in 2019 and took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, banned most abortions at any stage of pregnancy, making them a felony, with very limited exceptions when necessary , to prevent serious injury or save a patient’s life.

Almost blanket bans in both states ban abortion in most cases, with no exceptions for rape or incest, making Kentucky and Texas two of 13 states that ban or severely restrict abortion.

The Jane Doe lawsuit names Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and other state officials as defendants. A spokesman for Kentucky’s Republican attorney general’s office told CNN they are “looking into the complaint.”

“I’m a proud Kentuckian and I love the life and family I’ve built here. But I’m angry that now that I’m pregnant and I don’t want to be, the government is interfering in my personal affairs and blocking me from getting an abortion,” the woman said in a statement provided by the ACLU.

“It’s my decision – not the government’s or anyone else’s,” she added. “I am filing this lawsuit because I strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to make their own decisions about their pregnancy. I hope this case restores access to abortion in Kentucky, if not for me, then for the countless people in the future who deserve the autonomy to decide what is best for them and their families.

Jane Doe filed a class action lawsuit to include all pregnant women in Kentucky who may also seek abortions because they “suffer medical, constitutional and irreparable harm because they are denied the opportunity to have an abortion,” according to the lawsuit.

“Jane Doe should have the power to make decisions about her body and access basic health care in her community, but Kentucky politicians have denied her that basic right,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project , in a news release. “Kentucky’s abortion bans violate the Kentucky Constitution, including its promise to protect everyone’s right to privacy, which includes the right to access an abortion.”

“These bans have harmed countless Kentuckians since they went into effect last year, and we are relieved to be back in court to try to restore access to abortion in Kentucky,” Amiri added.

Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said at a news conference Friday, “Access to reproductive health care has been denied for too long.”

“We know the people of Kentucky agree with us because, in 2022, Kentuckians had their say by rejecting a constitutional amendment that would have amended the state constitution to specifically say it does not protect the right to abortion.” Gibron said.

In June 2022, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood obtained a restraining order and temporary injunction after they argued that the state’s trigger law and six-week abortion ban violated the constitutional rights of pregnant Kentuckians to “privacy, bodily autonomy and self-determination.” The ACLU said in an earlier news release.

The injunction was overturned in February by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the district court had wrongfully stayed two state abortion laws.

This year, health care providers and abortion activists continued to file legal challenges to stop bans in several states — and with more than a dozen states banning abortion and restricting it in many more, it has become about twice as common met for people in the United States to travel across state lines for their abortion care.

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