Judge dismisses challenge to Kentucky’s abortion ban

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — A circuit court judge on Friday, June 28, dismissed a challenge to Kentucky’s abortion ban brought by three Jewish women in late 2022, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing because their alleged injuries caused by state laws were “hypothetical.”

Lisa Sobel, Jessica Kalb and Sarah Baron, all residents of Louisville, brought the case. None are currently pregnant but expressed a religiously motivated desire to further expand their families by having children.

Sobel and Kalb both conceived with the assistance of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Sobel survived a hemorrhage during labor and delivery and asserts that the state’s laws are impeding her attempting to have a second child. Kalb wants to be pregnant again, but canceled an August 2022 embryo transfer for fears that she would be forced to carry a non-viable fetus to term.

Baron, 38, is concerned about having a third child because of the increased risks that come with geriatric pregnancies.

“Plaintiffs Sobel and Kalb both assert that the current abortion laws are impeding them from attempting to expand their families. Plaintiff Baron is unwilling to attempt a pregnancy at her advanced maternal age because she believes there are no protections for her safety,” Judge Brian Edwards wrote in his Friday ruling, before pointing out Kentucky’s abortion exception where the life of the mother is at risk.

In their lawsuit, the three women alleged that Kentucky’s abortion laws were “unconstitutionally vague and unintelligible,” violate the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act and “denigrate Jews and Jewish practice.”

Judge Edwards ruled that Sobel, Kalb and Baron lack the standing to continue litigation.

“The alleged injuries of the three Plaintiffs are hypothetical as none are currently pregnant or undergoing IVF at the present time…therefore, the Court must conclude that the Plaintiffs here lack standing to proceed in this action.”

Judge Edwards did address the plaintiffs’ apprehensions about being prosecuted for participation in IVF, calling the concerns “misplaced.” He pointed to the Attorney General’s October 26, 2022 advisory opinion regarding the Human Life Protection Act — Kentucky’s abortion ban—and the language of Kentucky Revised Statute 507A.010.

“We applaud the Court’s decision to uphold Kentucky law,” said Attorney General Russell Coleman. “Most importantly, the Court eliminates any notion that access to IVF services in our Commonwealth is at risk. Today’s opinion is a welcome reassurance to the many Kentuckians seeking to become parents.”

Read the full opinion here.

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