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April 13, 2022

Adovcates for reproductive freedom rallied against House Bill 3 at the Kentucky Capitol. Credit: Samuel Crankshaw, ACLU of Kentucky Foundation, March 29, 2022.

View ACLU court filings in the PDFs at the bottom of this page.

Kentucky Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto, Planned Parenthood and ACLU Sue to Block Law’s Unconstitutional Abortion Restrictions

Without judicial relief, abortion care will be effectively banned in the state.

Frankfort, KY — Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) will file two individual lawsuits challenging House Bill 3, an anti-abortion omnibus law that effectively bans abortion care in Kentucky as of today. HB 3, which passed the legislature late last month, was vetoed by Governor Andy Beshear on April 8. The legislature overrode his veto moments ago, immediately putting the slew of abortion care restrictions and a blanket 15-week ban on abortion care into effect.

The lawsuits will argue the law would create unnecessary abortion requirements while simultaneously making those requirements impossible to comply with given the immediate effective date of the law, forcing providers in the state to stop offering abortion care services. Because the law is impossible to comply with, it amounts to a de facto abortion ban, violating patients’ federal right to abortion care under Roe v. Wade.

The ACLU and ACLU-KY also challenge the 15-week abortion ban.

Statement from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky:

“Make no mistake: the Kentucky Legislature’s sole goal with this law is to shut down health centers and completely eliminate abortion access in the state. But we haven’t lost hope — we’re getting to work. Trust us when we say that we will do everything in our power to stop this insidious law from preventing Kentuckians from accessing the vital, time-sensitive health care they need and deserve. We are confident that the courts will stop this cruel and unconstitutional omnibus. Everyone deserves to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures."

Statement from Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

“The Kentucky legislature was emboldened by a similar 15-week ban pending before the Supreme Court and other states passing abortion bans, including in Florida and Oklahoma, but this law and others like it remain unconstitutional. We urge the court to block this law immediately and ensure that people in Kentucky can continue to access abortion care.”

HB 3 would completely and immediately eliminate abortion access in Kentucky by piling on a laundry list of unnecessary abortion restrictions that are impossible for providers to comply with because the Commonwealth has not yet set up the mechanisms for complying with the law. For example, the law requires registration to provide medication abortion care but the Commonwealth has not yet set up that registration process. It would also require egregious reporting requirements that would violate patient privacy. HB 3 also includes a 15-week blanket ban on abortion care, modeled off of Mississippi’s ban which is currently awaiting a ruling at the US Supreme Court.

If this law is not immediately blocked, Kentuckians will be denied their constitutional right to abortion care in-state. Those who are able to scrape together resources will be forced to travel out-of-state to obtain the care they need. But many people will not be able to do that, and will be forced to continue their pregnancies. Due to systemic discrimination and racism, which already impose barriers to health care, this law will disproportionately affect the state’s Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, people with low incomes, and those in rural areas. The reality is that if the law isn’t blocked, some pregnant people in Kentucky will be forced to remain pregnant at great physical, emotional, and financial cost to them and their existing families.

The Planned Parenthood lawsuit will be filed on behalf of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky (“PPGNHAIK”), which operates the Louisville Health Center. PPGNHAIK is represented by lawyers from Crowell & Moring, LLP; Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Louisville firm of Kaplan Johnson Abate & Bird LLP.

The ACLU's and ACLU of Kentucky's challenge is on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which is also represented by O’Melveny & Myers and Michele Henry of Craig Henry PLC.