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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Kentucky woman seeking court approval for abortion learns her embryo has no cardiac activity

A pregnant woman in Kentucky who’s suing over the state’s two abortion near-total banshas learned that her embryo no longer has a heartbeat, her lawyers said Tuesday.

The unidentified woman was about eight weeks pregnant when she filed the lawsuit in a state court in Louisville on Friday, saying in a press release that she was pregnant and did “not want to be.”

“This is my decision—not the government’s or any other person’s. I am bringing this lawsuit because I firmly believe that everyone should have the ability to make their own decisions about their pregnancies,” she said.

Attorneys for the pregnant woman, who’s identified as Jane Doe in the suit to protect her privacy, did not say what effect the health news would have on the case.

“Kentuckians like Jane should be able to focus solely on their health and should not have to worry about bringing a lawsuit,” Brigitte Amiri, deputy director, at ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom project representing Jane Doe, said in a press release following the health news. “But the Kentucky Supreme Court previously held that health care providers could not raise the constitutional rights of their patients.”

Kentucky has two abortion laws, which form a near-total ban: a “trigger law” prohibiting nearly all abortions, except when the health of the mother is threatened, and a separate six-week ban barring abortion once an embryo’s cardiac activity has been detected. The plaintiff in the case has been pregnant for more than six weeks. Thetrigger law, passed in 2019, took effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022. Both laws were passed by Republican legislative majorities.

The Kentucky case comes as Texas deals with a similar case. Texas woman Kate Cox, who had sought a legal medical exemption for an abortion, left the state after the Texas Supreme Court paused a lower court decision that would allow her to have the procedure, lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights said Monday.

The Jane Doe in the Kentucky suit is seeking class-action status in her case to include other Kentucky residents who are pregnant and seeking abortions. She’s the only listed plaintiff, but the suit was filed for her and “on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated.”

Amiri said the ACLU is seeking additional plaintiffs who want to join in the suit.

According to the suit, Jane Doe and others like her “are suffering medical, constitutional, and irreparable harm because they are denied the ability to obtain an abortion.” The suit notes the physical and health challenges women face during pregnancy. It says that women unable to access abortions in Kentucky can face “life-altering” consequences to their physical, emotional and economic wellbeing because of the consequences of unexpected pregnancy and childbirth.

“These consequences can be particularly acute for patients who are pregnant as a result of rape, experiencing domestic violence, or facing fetal diagnoses incompatible with sustained life after birth,” the suit says.

The lawsuit names Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, as well as Eric Friedlander, secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services. CBS News has reached out to Cameron and Friedlander’s offices for comment.

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