In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Webster decision, signaling that states would have greater ability to impose restrictions on access to abortion services. Recognizing the need for full-time staff resources dedicated to pro-choice advocacy work, the ACLU of Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Project (RFP) was founded under the guidance of Suzy Post, then-executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky.
Post-Roe & Where We Stand Today
Nearly 25 years later, the Reproductive Freedom Project faces a vastly new landscape than the one during its inception. Without the federal protections of Roe and Casey, the fight for abortion access has moved to the state level. Rest assured, the Reproductive Freedom Project and ACLU-KY are prepared for this moment. We call on all Kentuckians to join us and fight back at the courts, ballot box, and state house, and the Reproductive Freedom Project will continue to fight for restored access through litigation, advocacy, and education.
The ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky have been involved in litigation for nearly all abortion rights case in Kentucky over the past four decades, including EMW v. Cameron, our lawsuit against the state to restore abortion access after the 2022 SCOTUS Dobbs decision.
Our senior staff attorney, Heather Gatnarek, argued before the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November 2022 that while that abortion access lawsuit against the state made its way through the court system, abortion care should remain accessible in the commonwealth. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Kentucky did not grant our request.
While we've since moved to dismiss this case due to an extraordinary ruling by the Kentucky State Supreme Court that we lack standing to bring a lawsuit on behalf of patients seeking an abortion, we remain open to hearing from patients who are in Kentucky and need to access an abortion. Those patients can pursue a challenge to the state abortion bans and help restore abortion access in the Commonwealth.
If you are in Kentucky, seeking an abortion, and want to know more about possibly being a plaintiff in a lawsuit like this, our phone lines are open. Give us a call or text us at (617) 297-7012.
The Reproductive Freedom Project, in concert with other groups, organizes public educational forums such as:
- Welcome Webinars: Welcome Webinars will introduce the future of our reproductive freedom organizing work in the state.
- Repro Roundtable: Individuals or orgs can attend these monthly meetings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to join.
- Volunteer Lobbying Training: Through our Mini-Lobby Day program, we train volunteer lobbyists to meet and converse with lawmakers on topics that are important to them, including abortion access and reproductive freedom.
The Reproductive Freedom Project has a lobbying arm for state reproductive freedom issues. We coordinate volunteer lobbyists, do text and phone banks, develop message points and strategy, and arrange testimony before committees in Frankfort, both during annual general assemblies and throughout the year. RFP advocacy issue areas include:
- restoring abortion access,
- improving Black and maternal infant health,
- increasing access to free-standing birthing centers,
- expanding access to health care for pregnant people,
- reducing racism in health care,
- providing paid leave for all Kentuckians,
- and other issues related to reproductive freedom in the commonwealth.
During the November 2022 election, we focused on defeating Amendment 2, which would have permanently altered Kentucky’s constitution to allow no protections for abortion care, no matter the circumstance. We proudly worked alongside partners Black Birth Workers Alliance, Fairness Campaign, Kentucky Health Justice Network, the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Planned Parenthood, Sexy Sex Ed, and Sister Song under the umbrella of Protect Kentucky Access (PKA). After knocking on approximately 150,000 doors, and thousands of texts and phone calls, we're proud to say we defeated Amendment 2.
While abortion is currently banned in the commonwealth, we are proud to say the legal path to abortion access remains open. We remain dedicated to restoring abortion access and reproductive freedom for all Kentuckians through education, advocacy, and litigation.
In Kentucky, if you are under 18 and have never been married you must have the consent of a parent or a judge before you can have an abortion. If you decide to have an abortion and you cannot tell one of your parents, you have the right to get a court order from a judge. It is very important to know your legal rights if you decide to seek a court order. You have the right to:
- A speedy process: The judge must reach a decision quickly, within 72 hours (3 days) of when your case is filed in court. Often, the judge will decide immediately.
- A lawyer: If you don’t have a lawyer, the court must appoint one. It is best to go to court with a lawyer. The clinic can help get you a lawyer.
- Free court costs: If you sign a form saying you can’t pay court costs, you won’t have to pay for either the court costs or the lawyer.
- Confidentiality: No one should ever know you have been to court asking for permission to get an abortion. You have a legal right to go to court instead of telling a parent about your decision to have an abortion.
- Answers to questions: There should be someone in the circuit or district court clerk’s office who can answer your questions, either in person by phone. Never hesitate to ask questions. Your lawyer also can answer your questions.
If you are pregnant and unsure of what you want to do, you can call one of the organizations listed below for help. Counselors at a family planning clinic or the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice can help you decide. You don’t need a parent’s permission to see a counselor. These services are confidential.
Whatever choice you make about your pregnancy, these organizations and clinics are there to provide help and support because they care about your safety and well-being. Whatever choice you make, you do not have to go through the process alone.
These organizations provide information, counseling, birth control, family planning services, and referrals:
- Planned Parenthood - Louisville
- Planned Parenthood - Lexington
- Kentucky Health Justice Network
- The Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Get Involved with Reproductive Freedom
The work of the Reproductive Freedom Project depends on volunteers like you talking with lawmakers, helping us with text and phone banks, and getting your friends to fill out petitions. There are lots of ways to get involved with ACLU-KY. Thank you for standing with us.
Attend a Welcome Webinar Our upcoming Welcome Webinars will introduce the future of our reproductive freedom organizing work in the state.
Sign up for Interim Lobby Days Meet with lawmakers in Frankfort and tell them why reproductive freedom is imperative to the commonwealth.
Sponsor the 2023 Reproductive Freedom Benefit This annual benefit is our biggest fundraiser for reproductive freedom work in the state.
Fill out a Volunteer Form Tell us about your skills, talents, and availability, and we'll match you with the best way to volunteer toward reproductive freedom.
Become a Card-Carrying Member You can join the ACLU of Kentucky for as little as $5. As a member of the ACLU of Kentucky, your dues will directly support our work in the courts, Frankfort, and communities throughout the commonwealth.
Support our work with a Tax-Deductible Donation No matter the amount, tax-deductible donations from Kentuckians throughout the commonwealth keep our lights on. Donating is easy and can be done online, through the mail, or over the phone.