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ACLU says woman suing over Kentucky’s abortion bans learned her embryo lost cardiac activity

Executive director Amber Duke of the ACLU of Kentucky stands in front of a podium that reads 'ACLU Kentucky.' Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Kentucky's Planned Parenthood affiliate, stands beside her. A pink Planned Parenthood sign on a wall behind them reads: 'Don't take away our care.'
Morgan Watkins
Executive Director Amber Duke of the ACLU of Kentucky and Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Kentucky's Planned Parenthood affiliate, appeared at a press conference in Louisville Friday to announce a new class-action lawsuit against Kentucky's two strictest abortion bans.

The ACLU announced Tuesday that the woman at the center of a new lawsuit against Kentucky’s strictest abortion bans has experienced a change in the condition of her pregnancy.

The plaintiff, who’s using Jane Doe as a pseudonym in court to protect her privacy, filed a class-action lawsuit Friday in a Kentucky court against the state’s trigger and six-week bans on abortion.

Since then, however, the ACLU said Jane Doe — who was about eight weeks pregnant when she filed the suit — “learned her embryo no longer had cardiac activity.” The ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky, which represent her in court, said in a Tuesday news release that attorneys have informed the court of this change.

It’s unclear what impact this development will have on the lawsuit. A spokesperson for the ACLU of Kentucky declined to provide any further information on the case.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron previously issued an advisory that says the state’s near-total trigger ban on abortion does not apply if a patient experiences a miscarriage and does not prohibit a doctor from “providing miscarriage management.”

Tuesday’s joint news release from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, which is also involved in the lawsuit, does not say if Jane Doe has been formally diagnosed with a miscarriage.

The news release indicates they still welcome other plaintiffs to join the class-action lawsuit.

“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,” said ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Deputy Director Brigitte Amiri. “We will do everything we can to restore abortion access in Kentucky.”

Jane Doe’s case is the first such class-action lawsuit brought against Kentucky’s bans since abortion was outlawed in the state last year. It argues the bans violate rights that Jane Doe and other abortion-seeking Kentuckians have under the state constitution.

A similar lawsuit by two Louisville abortion clinics was dismissed earlier this year after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the health care providers lacked the necessary legal standing to pursue the case on their patients’ behalf.

But the court made it clear that a pregnant Kentuckian could challenge the bans in court. On Friday, that’s what Jane Doe did.

Morgan is LPM's health & environment reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.

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