Lawsuit filed to re-establish abortion rights in Kentucky

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2022

MARK MAYNARD

Kentucky Today

As promised, abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit in Kentucky, seeking to re-establish the right to have an abortion under the state constitution.

Access to abortion in Kentucky ended Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established abortion as a constitutional right. But immediately after the decision was released, abortion supporters vowed to take action in court.

The court challenge from Kentucky’s two outpatient abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, seeks to block two abortion bans, asserting the Kentucky Constitution protects the right to privacy and bodily autonomy. It is asking Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry to block enforcement of the 2019 trigger law because it conflicts with rights conferred by the state constitution.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, came only three days after the Supreme Court’s announcement.

It also asks the judge to halt a ban on abortions after six weeks that a federal judge had blocked but could be reinstated following Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

“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 bans to prevent the life-altering harm they are causing.”

Earlier on Monday in Louisiana, another state whose trigger law took immediate effect, was stopped when a judge granted a similar request by local abortion providers and issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the state’s ban from enforcement.

“Pregnant Kentuckians have the right to determine their own futures and make private decisions about their lives and relationships,” the filing reads. “Access to safe and legal abortion is essential to effectuating those rights.”

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is named as the defendant in the lawsuit and he plans to defend Kentuckians and the state constitution vigorously.

“To be clear, there is no right to abortion contained in the Commonwealth’s Constitution — and we will stand up against any baseless claim to the contrary,” he said. “I have always stood strong in defense of life, and I will continue to advocate for our laws, which protect pregnant women and unborn babies.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs definitively stated that each state is the authority on protecting unborn life, and our General Assembly’s passage of the Human Life Protection Act made it clear that most abortions are now illegal.”

Abortion opponents are pushing a ballot initiative in the Nov. 8 general election that, if approved, would add an amendment to the state constitution declaring there is no right to abortion in Kentucky. The legislature voted to put the measure on the ballot in the 2022 session.

Amber Duke, interim executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said the organization is mobilizing its supporters to “show up at the statehouse and the ballot box to demand our rights to bodily autonomy.”