In 2018, the ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky filed suit on behalf of Kentucky abortion providers to challenge a state law banning physicians from providing a safe and medically proven abortion method called dilation and evacuation, or “D&E.” If it were to take effect, this law would prevent many patients from being able to obtain an abortion altogether. The law imposes serious harm on patients' health and dignity.
Following a trial, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky ruled that the law, also known as H.B. 454, is unconstitutional, and permanently blocked its enforcement. Kentucky’s appeal from that ruling is now pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
For many patients, the procedure banned by H.B. 454 is the safest and most appropriate. The law would force doctors to stop providing it and forcing patients either to leave the state to obtain it or to forego the care altogether. A new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that restrictions on abortion like the Kentucky law create barriers to safe care.
This restriction is part of a national strategy to push abortion out of reach. Since January 2011, state politicians have enacted more than 401 new restrictions on abortion that force patients to delay care, shut down clinics, and make abortion care unaffordable. Due in part to these restrictions, Kentucky is one of a handful of states that have only one abortion provider left.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C., on behalf of itself, its staff, and its patients, as well as two physicians who provide care at EMW, on behalf of themselves and their patients. They are represented by attorneys with the ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky.