A hearing involving the fate of the last abortion clinic in Kentucky began Wednesday with attorneys for the abortion clinic saying there will be no abortions in Kentucky if the state wins.
While pro-lifers may think this is a reason to celebrate, attorney Donald L. Cox for EMW Women’s Clinic meant his statement to cause concern.
“The state is trying to shut down the only abortion clinic in Kentucky by enforcing regulations that have nothing to do with women’s health,” Cox told a federal court Wednesday, CBS affiliate WLKY reports. “There will be no abortions in Kentucky if they win.”
Pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration said the Louisville abortion clinic is not adequately prepared to help patients if emergency complications arise. They said the facility is not in compliance with a state law that requires it to have hospital and ambulance service agreements for patient emergencies.
The administration recently moved to take away the facility’s license until it does comply; however, the abortion clinic sued to block the state’s actions.
Steve Pitt, attorney for the state, told the court Wednesday that the state is trying to protect women’s health by enforcing the law, which has been in place for nearly 20 years, the AP reports.
“The governor and the secretary of the cabinet are attempting to enforce the law that requires — for the safety of women — for abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals, every state in this area has those statutes,” Pitt said.
But Cox claimed women may resort to dangerous back alley or do-it-yourself abortions if EMW loses its abortion license.
“That end result will be that some women take the matter into their own hands, and we know where that ends,” Cox said.
The trial is expected to continue through Friday. It is not clear when the court will reach a decision.
If the federal court rules in favor of Kentucky, it could become the first state without an abortion clinic. Seven other states also currently have one abortion clinic left.
EMW and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which also is involved in the lawsuit, are arguing that the state just wants to shut them down, and the regulations are not necessary because abortion complication rates are low. They say the regulations are unconstitutional because they restrict women’s access to abortion.
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The governor defended the state’s actions Wednesday in an interview with WKYZ.
“If the law allows for certain things to exist, we need to follow that law or change it,” Bevin said. “That includes having transfer agreements in place. You don’t get to change the rules just because they don’t fit your desire at that time, which is what some of these abortion providers are trying to do.”
Bevin’s administration has been working aggressively to close abortion facilities that do not comply with the law.
Last year, it shut down another EMW abortion facility in Lexington after state officials caught it masquerading as a doctor’s office and performing abortions without a license. State health investigators also found unsanitary conditions inside the facility, according to the Courier Journal. The state had to go through a legal battle before it could close the facility.
In February 2016, Bevin’s administration also sued a new Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Louisville after catching it performing 23 abortions without a license, LifeNews reported. Planned Parenthood’s lawyer contended that former pro-abortion Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration gave the abortion facility the OK to do abortions while the state processed its license application, and wanted the lawsuit to be dismissed.
At the time, Bevin called out the abortion business for “callous and knowing violations of the law.”