The SCOTUS Dobbs v. Jackson's Womens Health Organization decision, released on June 24, 2022, forever changed the nature of abortion access work in Kentucky. Kentucky is now a forced birth state, where abortion remains inaccessible under almost all circumstances in the commonwealth.
Even before June 24, 2022, our Reproductive Freedom Project fought for the rights of pregnant people to make the best decisions for them and their families — and we will continue that fight, ceaselessly, until every person in Kentucky can make those choices for themselves.
Here’s a look at the work we’ve done this past year to restore and advocate for reproductive freedom in the commonwealth, how we'll continue this work in the future, and how you can get involved in this fight.
No On 2
Even before the fall of Roe, Kentucky lawmakers were clawing at reproductive rights by attempting to amend the Kentucky Constitution during the 2022 Kentucky Midterm Election by adding language that could legally prohibit abortion.
We worked with Protect Kentucky Access’ "No On 2" campaign—knocking on thousands of doors, sending thousands of emails, text messages, and phone calls—to encourage Kentuckians to reject that language. We’re proud to say the No On 2 campaign was successful, and the legal path for abortion access in Kentucky remains open.
This vote reflected sentiments from other states with similar proposed amendments, and the message was clear: lawmakers have gone too far in stripping their constituents’ freedoms.
EMW v. Cameron
Just days after Kentuckians voted No On 2, our senior staff attorney, Heather Gatnarek, argued before the Supreme Court of Kentucky that while our abortion access lawsuit against the state makes 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.
Black Maternal Health
We continue our reproductive freedom work by advocating for better Black maternal health in the state. Black Kentuckians are at the forefront of the global maternal health crisis. The United States is the only developed country whose maternal mortality rates are increasing, and Kentucky has some of the worst maternal and infant outcomes in the nation. Black birthing people are 3 times more likely to die during birth or after, compared to their white counterparts.
We continue our work with the Breaking Barriers Council, a group of experts and advocates from around Kentucky working to reduce racial disparities in maternal and infant health and improve outcomes for all Kentuckians, and we worked with legislators to advocate for policy change.
This upcoming year, we'll travel the state mobilizing Kentuckians toward regaining abortion access. We'll also continue our monthly Repro Roundtable events, where individuals and orgs can gather to discuss best practices and strategies.
Kentucky General Assemblies
If Kentucky continues to be a forced birth state, there must be policies in place that produce better outcomes for pregnant people and their families. We were proud to support a number of bills focused on improving maternal and infant health outcomes during the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly, including but not limited to: measures to increase access to free-standing birth centers, expanding access to health care for pregnant people, reducing racism in health care, and providing paid leave for all Kentuckians.
While some of these bills made it out of committee, ultimately none of them passed. We look forward to supporting this type of legislation in the general assembly again next year to ensure birthing people in Kentucky are able to make the choices best for them and their families.
Supporting Our Partners
While we continue to fight to restore reproductive freedom in Kentucky at the state house, courthouse, and the ballot box, we call on you to support other organizations also serving the reproductive needs of Kentuckians. We remain grateful to the following organizations — and countless others — who are fighting to restore reproductive freedom in our state:
- Kentucky Health Justice Network
- Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky
- Breaking Barriers Council
- Anchored Beginnings
- Black Birth Justice
- Sister Song
Our work 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.
- Join the Repro Roundtable. Individuals or orgs can attend these monthly meetings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to join.
- 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.