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Reproductive justice advocates in Kentucky prepare for changes in abortion access

EMW Women's Surgical center in downtown Louisville is one of only two abortion providers in the state of Kentucky.
EMW Women's Surgical center in downtown Louisville is one of only two abortion providers in the state of Kentucky.

After the United States Supreme Court overturned federal protections for abortion access, the power to make decisions about abortion access now rests with state legislatures. 

In Kentucky, there was a trigger law on the books, thatbanned most abortions. The ACLU, which represents EMW Women’s Surgical Center, and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to stop the state’s abortion bills from taking effect arguing the state’s constitution allows for abortions.

A judge granted a restraining order preventing abortion bans from being enforced.

While abortions are currently happening in the state, reproductive justice organizations are preparing for changes in the way they provide care.

The Kentucky Health Justice Network (KHJN) is one of those organizations.

KHJN acts as a connector between people and abortion care. It also provides gender-affirming health care. 

“People are able to call our hotline and get help,” the executive director at KHJN Erin Smith said. “Get help in trying to find a place to have a safe and healthy abortion. Help with funding, help with logistical measures and actions.”

Organizations like KHJN could adjust their services to help people get out of state to access abortion. With that, the cost of care will go up.

“Travel, a place to stay, if they need help paying for child care that’s gonna be more money that they need help go towards child care, if they need grocery for family and they’re gonna be gone more days then that’s something we're gonna have to pay for and help them pay for as they go through this very difficult time,” Smith said.

Here’s a map of where people can access abortions in and around the region:

We will update this tool as policies change and providers open or close.

KHJN hotline workers build case files for the people they speak with, helping them plan out initial appointments to aftercare plans.

“It’s never just ‘Oh we’ll cover the costs,” Smith said. “It takes more than just getting someone there or helping them make an appointment. It goes into making sure that all of their needs and their family’s needs are met.”

All Access Eastern Kentucky is a collective that includes Appalshop, KHNJ and Power to Decide, which works to provide abortion and contraceptives access in Appalachian counties. Appalshop is part of the Ohio Valley ReSource, which WFPL News is also a part of.

After the Supreme Court released its Dobbs decision, All Access Eastern Kentucky released a statement. 

“Our All Access EKY team knows that ensuring access to the full range of contraceptive methods is more crucial now than ever. We continue to believe that all individuals deserve the right to make decisions about their body and their future,” the statement read.

With the abortion access ever-changing status in the state and country, Smith recommended that people get in touch with people and groups that are vetted by reproductive justice organizations. 

“We just want to make sure that you and all other pregnant persons can be well taken care of and are safe,” Smith said.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that the ACLU is representing the EMW Women's Surgical Center.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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