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Kentucky woman sues over state’s two strictest abortion bans

A woman who is eight weeks pregnant is suing to try to overturn Kentucky’s strictest abortion bans.
Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron
A woman who is eight weeks pregnant is suing to try to overturn Kentucky’s strictest abortion bans.

A pregnant Kentuckian filed a class-action lawsuit Friday against Kentucky’s trigger and six-week bans on abortion. She says the laws violate her constitutional rights.

The woman, who’s using the pseudonym Jane Doe in court to protect her privacy, is about eight weeks pregnant and cannot get a legal abortion in her home state because of the bans passed by the Republican-dominated Kentucky Legislature.

Abortion is illegal in Kentucky unless there’s a life-threatening health risk to the pregnant patient. Jane Doe is bringing the case, which was filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, on her own behalf and on behalf of similarly situated Kentuckians who are or will one day become pregnant and be unable to legally obtain an abortion in their state.

This is the first such class-action lawsuit brought against Kentucky’s bans since abortion was outlawed in the state last year, soon after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority eliminated a nationwide right to abortion.

Jane Doe’s case also arrives more than five months after another major lawsuit against Kentucky’s bans, brought by abortion providers, was dismissed this summer.

That lawsuit was derailed by the Kentucky Supreme Court’s February ruling that the state’s two remaining abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, lacked the necessary legal standing to pursue the case on their patients’ behalf.

The state Supreme Court left open the possibility that a pregnant patient could sue directly to challenge Kentucky’s abortion bans. That’s what’s happening now.

Like the earlier case, the new lawsuit argues Kentucky’s two strictest abortion laws — the trigger law that eliminated virtually all abortion access in the state and the ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — violate the Kentucky Constitution.

Specifically, Jane Doe’s lawsuit argues the bans infringe on her and other abortion-seeking Kentuckians’ constitutional rights to privacy and self-determination.

A constitutional challenge like this is still possible because Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution in November 2022.

It remains an open question, legally speaking, whether the Kentucky Constitution protects a right to abortion.

Jane Doe’s lawsuit seeks a court ruling that declares the state’s trigger and six-week bans unconstitutional and blocks them from being enforced any longer.

Kentucky’s Planned Parenthood affiliate is also a plaintiff in the case.

Morgan is Louisville Public Media's health reporter. Email Morgan at