Pregnant woman sues to invalidate Kentucky’s abortion bans

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – A pregnant woman and Planned Parenthood sued Kentucky on Friday, seeking to invalidate its near-total ban on abortion, saying the law violates rights to privacy and self-determination in the state constitution.

The lawsuit was filed by an anonymous woman, who is eight weeks pregnant and wants an abortion, on behalf of a proposed class of similarly situated women in Kentucky. It comes after the state’s court ruled in an earlier challenge brought by Planned Parenthood and another abortion provider that providers did not have standing to sue on patients’ behalf.

The court did not rule on the merits of that challenge. Planned Parenthood said earlier this year that it intended to bring another lawsuit once a pregnant patient was willing to act as the plaintiff.

“I am a proud Kentuckian and I love the life and family I have built here,” the plaintiff in Friday’s lawsuit, suing under the name Jane Doe, said in a statement. “But I am angry that now that I am pregnant and do not want to be, the government is interfering in my private matters and blocking me from having an abortion.”

A spokesperson for the office of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the office was reviewing the complaint.

The lawsuit challenges two 2019 laws: a law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, around six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant, and a ban on abortion at any time. The latter was passed as a so-called trigger law that took effect automatically when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent, which had guaranteed abortion rights nationwide, allowing states to ban the procedure.

Both laws contain only narrow exceptions to save the mother’s life or prevent severe injury to the mother. They do not have exceptions for rape, incest or for fatal fetal anomalies.

The lawsuit claims the laws violate the Kentucky state constitution’s right to liberty, which it says includes a right to privacy.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, 18 Republican-led states have banned or significantly restricted abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The bans have led to legal battles in state courts. Friday’s lawsuit comes a day after a Texas judge granted a first-of-its-kind restraining order allowing a woman to obtain an abortion for a medical emergency.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Jonathan Oatis)