Abortion providers drop, at least for now, challenge to state’s anti-abortion laws after failing to find a patient to be the plaintiff

Kentucky’s two abortion clinics are dropping a legal challenge to the state’s near-total abortion ban, citing the state Supreme Court’s decision this year that they lacked standing to sue on behalf of potential patients.

Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center “said they have not given up and will continue seeking such a patient willing to come forward, allowing them to file a new challenge,” Deborah Yetter reports for Kentucky Lantern.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron, an anti-abortion Republican who has been defending the two state laws under challenge, called the voluntary dismissal of the court challenge a “legal victory for unborn life” and announced that “the elective abortion industry is out of business in Kentucky.”

Cameron said in a news release, “A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable—especially the unborn.”

One of the laws at issue bans abortion after about six weeks, before some women realize they are pregnant; another bans almost all abortions. Both were invoked by a “trigger law” that took effect in late June 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal abortion protections and subsequently almost all abortion services in Kentucky.

EMW and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit last June in state court arguing that the state constitution creates a right to abortion. Early this year a divided Kentucky Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that abortion providers lacked legal standing to challange the anti-abortion laws on behalf of patients, which “meant they had to find a patient affected by the law and willing to sue,” Yetter notes.

The providers’ decision to drop the legal challenge was prompted by a deadline of Tuesday, June 20, to produce a plaintiff who is pregnant and wants a pregnancy termination but can’t get it as a result of one or both laws, Alex Acquisto reports for the Lexington Herald Leader.

The providers said in a statement, “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 for them to give us a call or text us at 617-297-7012.”

Another case challenging the state’s abortion laws remains pending. It involves three Jewish women from Louisville who “argue that the abortion laws — one of which defines life as beginning at conception — clash with Jewish teaching that life begins at birth. They also argue it limits their right to other care, such as in-vitro fertilization,” Yetter reports.

Acquisto reports that Planned Parenthood continues to provide reproductive health-care services, but EMW was forced to close its doors after the high court’s decision in February. In late May, EMW listed its building for sale.

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