Judge Denies Kentucky Governor’s Request to Close Abortion Clinic Breaking State Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 18, 2016   |   5:09PM   |   Louisville, KY

A judge has denied the request from pro-life Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky to close an abortion clinic that the governor says is running afoul of state law.

A lawsuit involving a Kentucky abortion clinic accused of masquerading as a doctor’s office went before a circuit court judge on Wednesday.

At the beginning of March, Kentucky pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration filed a lawsuit against the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington after discovering the abortion practice as well as unsanitary conditions inside the facility, according to the Courier Journal. EMW, which also runs an abortion clinic in Louisville, stopped doing abortions at its Lexington facility after the lawsuit was announced. The abortion clinic could face fines of up to $10,000 for each abortion violation.

On Wednesday, Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone listened to both sides present their cases but delayed ruling on whether the abortion clinic should stay closed until the lawsuit is resolved. Today, he issued that ruling, preventing the closure of the abortion business.

Scorsone ruled Friday against the state’s request for an injuction to close EMW Women’s Clinic on Burt Road. He said the state failed to present adequate evidence to establish that it will eventually prevail in the lawsuit.

“In addition to the evidence indicating that EMW is operating legally and in conformity with the most important regulations of a licensed abortion facility, closing the clinic is against the public interest,” Scorsone wrote. “EMW is the only physician’s office that routinely provides abortion services in the Eastern half of the state, and both parties agree that a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy is constitutionally protected. Closing EMW would have a severe, adverse impact on the women in the Eastern part of the state.”

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Scott White, an attorney representing the clinic, said it would open next week.

On Feb. 17, state inspectors with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services visited the clinic, where they reported that employees told them the clinic only performs abortions. Inspectors also found dirty conditions and expired medicine.

Steve Pitt, Gov. Matt Bevin’s general counsel, told Scorsone it was clear that the clinic performed only abortions and thus must be licensed by the state.

“It’s very clear that EMW of Lexington is an abortion facility,” he said. “If this is not the sort of abortion facility the General Assembly intended to be regulated and licensed, I can’t imagine what is.”

The EMW clinic in Lexington killed 411 babies in abortions in 2015 and the EMW abortion business in Louisville killed 2,773 babies in abortions in the same year, according to the newspaper.

According to the state’s lawsuit, the Lexington abortion clinic tried to pass itself off as a physicians office, but state investigators discovered that it was only doing abortions and abortion-related procedures. Kentucky requires that abortion clinics obtain special licenses from the state, and EMW did not.

EMW owner Ernest Marshall told the judge that he received a legal opinion many years ago that he did not need an abortion clinic license. Later during the testimony, Marshall admitted that his Lexington clinic has done mostly abortions in the past few years, the report states.

State investigators also told the judge about finding numerous health and safety violations at the abortion clinic, including a “significant quantity” of expired medication, medical equipment covered in dust, dirt and grime; and improper sanitation. It also did not have emergency agreements with a local hospital and ambulance service, as required by law, according to the state’s lawsuit.

In February, the state also sued a new Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Louisville after catching it doing abortions without a license, LifeNews reported. Planned Parenthood’s lawyer contends that former pro-abortion Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration gave the abortion facility the OK to do abortions without a license, and wants the lawsuit to be dismissed.

After announcing the first lawsuit filed against the Planned Parenthood facility, Gov. Bevin called out the abortion business for “callous and knowing violations of the law.”

“This administration will have no tolerance for the type of brazen disregard that Planned Parenthood has shown for both the safety of women and the rule of law,” Bevin continued. “We will hold Planned Parenthood accountable for knowingly endangering their patients by providing illegal abortions at a facility that was not properly licensed nor prepared to handle an emergency.”

Kentucky Right to Life President Margie Montgomery previously praised Gov. Bevin’s administration for taking action against Planned Parenthood. She said her pro-life organization will continue to work hard to offer women and their babies safe and loving alternatives to abortion.

“We are grateful to Governor Bevin and his administration for holding abortion providers in the commonwealth to established legal and medical standards. If Planned Parenthood in Louisville was performing illegal abortions without a license and subjecting women to grave risks by not having the hospital and ambulance transfer agreements, they should be held accountable,” Montgomery said.

“It appears to us that there was a rush to begin taking the lives of unborn children before the new administration was in place. Why else would the prior administration’s OIG allow Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky in Louisville to start performing abortions without an official license, or the required transfer agreements with local hospitals and ambulatory care. Officials in the prior administration entrusted with protecting the public health appear to have shirked their grave responsibilities when dealing with women’s health and innocent human lives” added Michael Janocik, Legislative Agent for the Kentucky pro-life group.