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Woman fighting Kentucky’s abortion laws says her embryo isn’t viable

A pregnant woman in Kentucky who sued the state over its abortion restrictions learned that her embryo no longer has cardiac activity, her attorneys said Tuesday.

The Kentucky woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit last week demanding the right to an abortion and arguing that the state’s near-total ban violates her rights to privacy and self-determination.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which is representing the woman, declined to comment on how her embryo’s state may affect the case, but it indicated that it will continue the challenge. She was about eight weeks pregnant when the ACLU filed the lawsuit Friday, days after a similar challenge in Texas.

“Jane Doe sought an abortion in Kentucky, and when she could not get one, she bravely came forward to challenge the state’s abortion ban. Although she decided to have an abortion, the government denied her the freedom to control her body. Countless Kentuckians face the same harm every day as the result of the abortion ban,” Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project deputy director, said in a news release.

“Kentuckians like Jane should be able to focus solely on their health and should not have to worry about bringing a lawsuit. … Unfortunately, patient-led challenges like Jane’s are our only path forward to strike down the bans under the right to privacy and right to self-determination,” Amiri added.

The Kentucky attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

The Guttmacher Institute, a group that advocates for abortion rights, says Kentucky has some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. The state tightened its restrictions soon after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. In February, the Kentucky Supreme Court rejected a request to halt the near-total ban’s enforcement.

The lawsuit challenges two laws in Kentucky: one that allows abortion only in the case of medical emergency or life endangerment, and a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

“The bans and the irreparable harms they inflict are an affront to the health and dignity of all Kentuckians,” the lawsuit states. “Everyone who can become pregnant has a right to determine their own future and to make decisions about their relationships and life opportunities without government interference that puts their health and well-being at risk.”

In 2021, about 4 percent of abortions in Kentucky occurred before six weeks of pregnancy, according to the lawsuit, while 26 percent occurred in the sixth week, when cardiac activity typically becomes detectable.

“These attempts to access healthcare criminalized by Kentucky force individuals to take on added legal and medical risks, and may jeopardize pregnant Kentuckians’ lives, safety, health, future, and their families’ welfare,” the lawsuit states.

Jane Doe, in a statement shared through the ACLU, said she is a proud resident of the state.

“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. This is my decision — not the government’s or any other person’s,” she wrote.

“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,” she added.

The challenge came days after an unprecedented legal battle over abortion access began in Texas.

Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, learned that her fetus had a fatal genetic condition and that carrying the pregnancy to term could jeopardize her future fertility. She petitioned a judge to get an abortion, becoming the first adult pregnant woman to ask a court for permission to terminate her pregnancy under an abortion ban since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, an elected Democrat, approved the abortion under narrow parameters within the state’s ban, but the Texas Supreme Court on Friday temporarily blocked the approval. On Monday night it reversed the lower court’s decision. Cox has since left the state for abortion care.

Caroline Kitchener and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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