Abortion-rights lawsuit needs a new plaintiff, ACLU of Ky. says

Published 7:40 am Monday, December 18, 2023

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Abortion-rights advocates are seeking a new plaintiff for their Kentucky class-action lawsuit because the plaintiff, who was eight weeks pregnant, “learned her embryo no longer had cardiac activity,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and affiliated groups said in a news release recently.

ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Deputy Director Brigitte Amiri, attorney for the plaintiff identified only as Jane Doe, said in the release, “We encourage others in Kentucky who are currently pregnant and seeking abortion to reach out to us if they are interested in joining the case—call or text us at (617) 297-7012. We will do everything we can to restore abortion access in Kentucky.”

The lawsuit was filed Friday, Dec. 9, in state court at Louisville. It alleges that Kentucky’s near-total abortion ban of abortion violates privacy and self-determination rights that the state constitution gives the plaintiff and other persons similarly situated, qualifying the case for class-action status.

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“Jane Doe sought an abortion in Kentucky, and when she could not get one, she bravely came forward to challenge the state’s abortion ban,” Amiri said. “Although she decided to have an abortion, the government denied her the freedom to control her body. Countless Kentuckians face the same harm every day as the result of the abortion ban.”

Earlier this year, the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to act against the ban and another outlawing abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, saying the abortion-clinic plaintiffs didn’t have the right to sue on behalf of women, leaving unresolved the constitutional questions about abortion in Kentucky.

The ACLU, Planned Parenthood and other activists said Friday that they had been searching for a plaintiff ever since that February ruling.

The near-total ban was passed in 2019 and took effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. It bans abortions except when 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, which Gov. Andy Beshear used to his advantage in his re-election campaign.

Kentucky voters last year rejected a ballot measure that would have denied any constitutional protections for abortion, but abortion-rights supporters made no inroads in the Republican-controlled legislature’s 2023 session in chipping away at the state’s anti-abortion laws.