In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, restrictive anti-abortion laws have gone into effect across much of the country. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging two such abortion bans in Kentucky. On July 22, 2022, the Jefferson Circuit Court in Kentucky temporarily blocked both bans, holding that the laws “impermissibly establish a distinctly Christian doctrine of the beginning of life, and . . . unduly interfer[e] with the free exercise of other religions that do not share that same belief.”
The case reached the Kentucky Supreme Court. On October 4, 2022, Americans United filed an amicus brief, joined by fifteen religious and civil-rights organizations, agreeing with the Circuit Court’s conclusion. We argued that Kentucky’s abortion bans threaten religious pluralism, incite religiously based conflict, and undermine public trust in political institutions.
On February 16, 2023, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs in the case were not entitled to a temporary injunction against the abortion bans, meaning that the bans will remain in effect until a final decision in the case. The Kentucky Supreme Court further ruled that the current plaintiffs only have a right to challenge one of the bans, and sent the case back to the trial court for a determination of whether that ban violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. The Court further provided that the trial court should consider whether additional plaintiffs should be permitted to join the suit to challenge the other abortion ban.