Kentucky Providers File New Lawsuit Challenging Abortion Bans in State Court

Affiliate: ACLU of Kentucky
June 27, 2022 2:45 pm

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Today, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Kentucky, and Planned Parenthood Northwest, Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky filed a state court challenge seeking to block two abortion bans, asserting the Kentucky Constitution protects the right to privacy and bodily autonomy. The lawsuit — filed on behalf of Kentucky abortion clinics and a health care provider — comes three days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the federal constitutional right to abortion.

In the lawsuit, the providers are seeking to block an outright abortion ban passed into law in 2019 that the Kentucky attorney general has threatened to enforce after the recent Supreme Court decision, and a six-week ban that was previously blocked by a federal court.

Abortion has been effectively banned in Kentucky since Roe was overturned last week, forcing people to carry pregnancies against their will or to flee the commonwealth to get the care they need. Abortion access has been under relentless attack in Kentucky for decades, and last week’s Supreme Court decision has allowed anti-abortion politicians to force their cruel views on Kentuckians.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to take away a right we have relied on for 50 years has caused devastation in Kentucky and across the country,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We hope the court blocks Kentucky’s abortion bans to prevent the life-altering harm they are causing. Since Friday, Kentuckians have been turned away from appointments and denied the ability to control their own bodies and futures. The impacts will be long-lasting, with countless people enduring serious health risks from forced pregnancy and childbirth, making it harder to escape poverty, and derailing education, career, and life plans. We’ll keep fighting for people’s ability to control if and when to have a child, regardless of where they call home.”

“The ACLU of Kentucky is bringing everything it has to the fight for abortion access following this devastating ruling,” said Amber Duke, ACLU of Kentucky interim executive director. “We are mobilizing our members, supporters, and volunteers to show up at the statehouse and the ballot box to demand our rights to bodily autonomy. As we navigate a future in which the government can force Kentuckians to remain pregnant against their will, we’ll be doubling down on our work to end maternal mortality, secure paid leave, and expand access to childcare.”

“Planned Parenthood isn’t new to this fight and today’s lawsuit marks the latest step in our ongoing effort to ensure that the people of Kentucky have the health care they need and deserve,” said Rebecca Gibron, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. “Last week’s opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court put the health and safety of Kentuckians at risk, as well as the fundamental human right to control one’s own bodily autonomy and medical decisions without political interference. Planned Parenthood will continue, as we always have, to stand for our patients and providers. Now, more than ever.”

Banning abortion for women and other people who can become pregnant disproportionately harms people of color, those struggling to make ends meet, young people, rural residents, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ communities. If abortion remains banned in Kentucky, Black women and other people of color will continue to bear the brunt. These communities already face a severe maternal mortality crisis that is worse in states determined to ban abortion. In fact, Black women in Kentucky are more than two times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after. If abortion is banned nationwide, pregnancy-related deaths are estimated to increase by 21 percent nationwide, and 33 percent among Black women.

The case is EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Daniel Cameron. The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU, ACLU of Kentucky, Craig Henry PLC, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

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