The American Civil Liberties Union announced March 13 it will be filing a lawsuit on behalf of the sole remaining abortion provider in Kentucky, challenging the Kentucky legislature’s latest abortion ban. The announcement comes after the Kentucky legislature passed House Bill 5, a bill that would bar a woman from having an abortion if she decided to have one because of a fetal diagnosis. It also bans abortions based on the sex, race, national origin, or ancestry of the fetus. 

The law is scheduled to take effect upon the governor’s signature and the lawsuit will seek immediate relief to prevent the law from going into effect.

“Decisions about whether to end a pregnancy must be made by the woman and her family. But this law takes the decision away from them and hands it over to politicians,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Kentucky women must be able to have private conversations with their health care providers and must be able to decide whether to have an abortion. We see this legislation for exactly what it is — part of a campaign to prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion if she needs one — and we won’t stand for it.”

Heather Gatnarek, staff attorney at the ACLU of Kentucky said, “The passage of House Bill 5 represents a thinly veiled effort of the Kentucky General Assembly to advance their anti-abortion agenda under the guise of an anti-discrimination bill. This law will do nothing to improve the lives of Kentuckians with disabilities. In fact, a number of bills that would have addressed health care, housing, and updated anti-discrimination protections were not even given a hearing this legislative session.”

This bill is the latest in a string of laws that the Commonwealth of Kentucky has passed or attempted to enforce over the last few years that would impermissibly interfere with a woman’s abortion care, including laws that would have shut down the last remaining clinic in the state. EMW and the ACLU have gone to court to challenge three such laws; all three have been blocked.  

The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Kentucky, Ackerson & Yann, and O’Melveny & Myers.

On March 27th the Temporary Restraining Order blocking the enforcement of House Bill 5 was extended through the final ruling in district court.