Attorney General James Continues Fight To Protect Women's Access To Safe Abortion Services

Attorney General James Continues Fight to
Protect Women's Access to Safe Abortion Services

AG James Leads Coalition of 19 AGs to Oppose Kentucky’s Unconstitutional Crackdown on Abortion and Reproductive Freedom

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 19 attorneys general across the nation in filing an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, challenging a Kentucky state law that would ban physicians from providing second-trimester abortion services using the most common and safest procedure available for women after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“Women have a constitutional right to safe, accessible abortion services, and no person, political party, or government entity can legally deny that right,” said Attorney General James. “Extremist laws that promote dangerous and invasive procedures have no place in this country. Despite efforts around the country to see reproductive freedoms diminished with the elimination of medically-accepted, safe abortion options, my office will continue to use every legal tool available to prioritize the health, wellness, and rights of women.”

The attorneys general argue that under the Supreme Court’s controlling “undue burden” standard, an abortion regulation is unconstitutional when its benefits to a state interest are not sufficient to justify the law’s burdens on abortion access. Where, as here, an abortion regulation would in effect ban safe and legal second-trimester abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, no purported benefit is sufficient to justify the burden on access because bans on pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional.

On May 10, 2019, U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. ruled that the 2018 law was "unconstitutional." Judge McKinley additionally issued a permanent injunction against the law. Kentucky appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The States’ amicus brief urges the court to affirm the district court’s decision.

In addition to Attorney General James, the brief was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

This amicus brief follows a number of steps Attorney General James and the Office of the Attorney General has taken to protect women’s reproductive rights, including leading and joining briefs challenging laws in Indiana Mississippi Arkansas, and Texas; challenging Title X restrictions on access to health care; and more.