Pregnant Kentucky woman sues over state’s two abortion bans

On Friday, a pregnant Kentucky woman filed a lawsuit for abortion rights, challenging the state's six-week ban and near-total “trigger” ban.

The lawsuit was filed in state court on behalf of an anonymous woman using the pseudonym Jane Doe. The woman is about eight weeks pregnant and cannot legally obtain an abortion in her home state.

Doe is seeking class action status on behalf of all Kentuckians who are pregnant or may become pregnant and cannot legally obtain an abortion because of state law.

The lawsuit says the state's imposition and six-week ban are unconstitutional and seeks a court ruling to prevent further enforcement.

Doe and other students in her class have suffered “medical, constitutional, and irreparable harm because they were denied the right to obtain an abortion,” the lawsuit says.

She is joined in the lawsuit by the Kentucky chapter of the Planned Parenthood Association, which operated one of only two outpatient health centers licensed to provide abortions in the state.

“This is my decision, not the government's or anyone else's. I am filing this lawsuit because I strongly believe that everyone should have the ability to make their own decisions about their pregnancy. Doe, the plaintiff, said in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups supporting her efforts.

Kentucky has two overlapping abortion bans, making the procedure illegal in almost all circumstances.

The state's “trigger” law, which bans all abortions, was passed in 2019 and took effect last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. All abortions are prohibited unless performed to save the patient's life. It does not include exceptions such as rape, incest, or severe fetal abnormalities.

The state also has a six-week “heartbeat law” that bans abortions after fetal heart activity is detected. The six-week ban also does not include exceptions for rape or incest, but only if it saves the life of a pregnant patient.

The case comes less than a year after the state Supreme Court rejected another challenge to the ban. In a narrow ruling in February, the court said the state's two abortion clinics did not have standing to challenge the ban on behalf of their patients.

However, the ruling did not address major questions of constitutionality, leaving open the possibility that patients could directly challenge the law.

The lawsuit was first made possible because Kentucky last year rejected an anti-abortion ballot measure that would have amended the state constitution to eliminate the right to abortion.

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