Pregnant woman sues Kentucky for right to have abortion | Kentuckythedigitalchaps


A pregnant woman in Kentucky filed a lawsuit on Friday demanding the right to an abortion, the second legal challenge in days to sweeping abortion bans that have taken hold in more than a dozen US states since Roe v Wade was overturned last year.

The suit, filed in state court in Louisville, says Kentucky’s near-total prohibition against abortion violates the plaintiff’s rights to privacy and self-determination under the state constitution.

The plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, is about eight weeks pregnant and she wants to have an abortion in Kentucky but cannot legally do so because of the state’s ban, the suit said. She is seeking class-action status to include other Kentuckians who are or will become pregnant and want to have an abortion.

“This is my decision – not the government’s or any other person’s,” the plaintiff said in a news release on Friday issued by the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups backing her challenge. “I am bringing this lawsuit because I firmly believe that everyone should have the ability to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.”

The office of the Republican state attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said it was reviewing the suit but offered no other comments. Cameron’s office has defended the state’s anti-abortion laws in other court proceedings.

On Thursday, a judge in Texas gave a pregnant woman whose fetus has a fatal diagnosis permission to get an abortion. The temporary restraining order stops Texas from enforcing the state’s ban on the woman, who is 20 weeks pregnant, and lasts for 14 days. Her attorneys afterward spoke cautiously about any wider impacts, and Texas’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, insisted that the order would not insulate any medical practitioners from civil and criminal liabilities in the state.

In Kentucky in February, the state supreme court refused to halt the state’s near-total abortion ban and another outlawing abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. The justices focused on narrow legal issues but did not resolve larger constitutional questions about whether access to abortion should be legal in the Bluegrass state.

The ACLU, Planned Parenthood and other activists launched a new assault against those bans in the suit filed on Friday in Jefferson county circuit court in Louisville.

“These bans have harmed countless Kentuckians since going into effect last year, and we are relieved to be back in court to try to restore abortion access in Kentucky,” Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in the news release.

The February ruling also made Kentucky the first state to require patients to bring their own legal challenges against abortion bans. The federal court system, along with most state courts, allows doctors to bring a lawsuit on their patient’s behalf, sparing pregnant people seeking abortion care from a protracted legal battle.

Amiri told the Guardian that by barring abortion providers from filing a legal challenge on behalf of a patient, the high court ruling forced vulnerable pregnant people “who are desperately seeking care” to deal with “public shame and stigma”.

“It is troubling that we have a legal system that makes it difficult for people to get into the courthouse,” she said.

After the February decision was announced, the ACLU began looking for an abortion patient to spearhead a class action against the state’s bans on abortion.

“It took us 10 months for someone to call us and have the courage and bravery to be a plaintiff in this lawsuit,” Amiri said. “We hope people will join the class action so she’s not bearing this alone.”

The lawsuit says Kentucky women are suffering “medical, constitutional and irreparable harm” by being denied the right to obtain an abortion.

“Abortion is a critical component of reproductive healthcare and crucial to the ability of Kentuckians to control their lives,” the suit says.

“Whether to take on the health risks and responsibilities of pregnancy and parenting is a personal and consequential decision that must be left to the individual to determine for herself without governmental interference,” it added.

Kentucky voters last year rejected a ballot measure that would have denied any constitutional protections for abortion, but abortion rights supporters have made no inroads in the legislature in chipping away at the state’s anti-abortion laws.

The legal challenge revolves around Kentucky’s near-total trigger law ban and a separate six-week ban – both passed by the state’s GOP-dominated legislature. The trigger law was passed in 2019 and took effect when Roe v Wade was overturned. It bans abortions except when they are carried out to save the life of the patient or to prevent disabling injury. It does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest.