Kentucky Woman Challenges State’s Abortion Ban for Very Valid Reason That She Doesn’t Want to Be Pregnant

“This is my decision—not the government’s or any other person’s,” Jane Doe said in a statement on Friday.

Kentucky Woman Challenges State’s Abortion Ban for Very Valid Reason That She Doesn’t Want to Be Pregnant
Protesters in Louisville, Kentucky after Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Photo:Getty Images

UPDATE, 12/12/23 at 11:00 a.m.: Lawyers for Jane Doe told the court on Monday that Doe’s embryo no longer had cardiac activity. A lawyer for the ACLU said they welcome additional plaintiffs: “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.” Original story below.

Since last week, the abortion news cycle has been dominated by the story of Kate Cox, a Texas woman with a non-viable pregnancy that threatens her health, who sued so she can get an abortion under the medical exceptions to the state’s ban. (Her lawyers said Monday that she would leave the state to get an abortion.) Cox’s case is important, but a different lawsuit filed on Friday makes a more expansive case for abortion access.

An anonymous Kentucky woman who is about eight weeks pregnant is suing the state because, well, she doesn’t want to be pregnant. The argument is refreshing for people who may feel like the other cases, however heartbreaking, focus on women who want children, rather than defending a fundamental right to bodily autonomy.

The case is called Jane Doe v. Daniel Cameron, and Doe and the Planned Parenthood Great Northwest affiliate are suing Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R), who recently ran for governor and lost. They’re represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, ​​and the ACLU invited other pregnant plaintiffs to join the case. There will be a hearing on December 18, per NBC News.

The class-action lawsuit claims the state’s two bans violate the state constitution and should be overturned—not just for her, but for all pregnant people who want to get abortions in their state. That’s different from the Cox lawsuit and other recent challenges in Texas, where nearly two dozen women are seeking clarification on the medical exception, not trying to overturn the bans outright.

“I am a proud Kentuckian and I love the life and family I have built here,” Doe said in a release. “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.” She added: “This is my decision—not the government’s or any other person’s. I am bringing this lawsuit because I firmly believe that everyone should have the ability to make their own decisions about their pregnancies. I hope this case will restore abortion access in Kentucky, if not for me then for the countless people in the future who deserve the autonomy to decide what is best for themselves and their families.”

The lawyers make the case for that right in the legal complaint itself. “Pregnancy and childbirth impact an individual’s health and well-being, finances, and personal relationships,” they write. “Whether to take on the health risks and responsibilities of pregnancy and parenting is a personal and consequential decision that must be left to the individual to determine for herself without governmental interference.” Not wanting to be pregnant is a perfectly good reason to have an abortion.

Shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing a trigger ban and six-week ban to both take effect, Kentucky abortion providers sued the state. That lawsuit got the bans blocked initially, but Cameron appealed and, in February 2023, the state Supreme Court said abortion providers couldn’t challenge the laws on behalf of their patients. The bans took effect once again. After that ruling, the ACLU started looking for a patient who’d be willing to sue.

Amber Duke, the executive director for the ACLU of Kentucky, said residents oppose the state’s bans, which have done untold harm. “Kentuckians have been forced to either travel hundreds of miles or carry pregnancies against their will, resulting in life-altering consequences and serious health risks over the past year.” She cited the 2022 defeat of anti-abortion ballot measure that would have amended the state constitution to exclude the right to abortion. “We know Kentuckians support access to legal, safe abortion care without government interference. They said so clearly when they soundly rejected anti-abortion Amendment 2,” Duke said. “We hope for a [legal] victory that aligns with the will of the people and overturns these unconstitutional bans.”

Rebecca Gibron, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest (which includes Alaska, Hawai‘i, Indiana, and Kentucky), said Doe’s suit would give desperately needed hope to people in the state, while acknowledging the injustice of having to go to court at all. “But this lawsuit should not have been necessary in the first place,” she said. “Every Kentuckian should have access to abortion in their own state, because this is essential reproductive health care.”

But sadly, this is where we’re at.

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