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Kentucky woman sues state over abortion ban so she can terminate her pregnancy

Alex Acquisto, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in News & Features

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A Kentucky woman Friday filed an emergency class-action lawsuit, asking a Jefferson County judge to allow her to terminate her pregnancy.

It’s the first lawsuit of its kind in Kentucky since the state banned nearly all abortions in 2022 and one of the only times nationwide since before Roe v. Wade in 1973 that an adult woman has asked a court to intervene on her behalf and allow her to get an abortion.

A woman in Texas this week asked a local judge there to allow her to terminate her nonviable pregnancy. Kentucky, like Texas, has a near-total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape, incest or lethal fetal conditions that result in a nonviable pregnancy.

The Kentucky woman, who’s using the pseudonym Jane Doe, is eight weeks pregnant and is seeking an abortion in the Bluegrass State, “but cannot legally do so because of the challenged abortion bans,” according to the 52-page lawsuit filed Friday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

Filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, the class-action lawsuit, which includes Planned Parenthood as a plaintiff, asks a judge to block enforcement of Kentucky’s trigger law and six-week abortion ban. She and other pregnant women who wish to no longer be pregnant are “suffering medical, constitutional and irreparable harm because they are denied the ability to obtain an abortion.”

“Jane Doe brings this action on behalf of herself and a class of similarly situated people who are now or later become pregnant and seek an abortion in Kentucky but cannot obtain one in the Commonwealth because of the challenged abortion bans,” the lawsuit reads.

 

“To protect the constitutional rights of Plaintiff Jane Doe and the class she represents . . . this Court must declare the Bans unconstitutional and permanently enjoin their enforcement.”

In a news release, Jane Doe said in a statement she was a “proud Kentuckian, and I love the life and family I have built here. But I am angry that now that I am pregnant and do not want to be, the government is interfering in my private matters and blocking me from having an abortion.”

Last summer, Kentucky’s two outpatient abortion providers sued the state after a pair of laws took effect criminalizing the health care procedure — a trigger law banning abortion in all cases except to save the life of a pregnant person, and a six-week ban, which outlaws abortion once fetal cardiac activity develops.

Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center argued the bans were unconstitutional, violating a pregnant person’s right to bodily autonomy and self-determination — rights they argued were protected by the Kentucky Constitution.

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