Kentucky Supreme Court Lets Governor Close Illegal Abortion Clinic That Broke State Law

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 25, 2016   |   6:04PM   |   Louisville, KY

A Lexington, Kentucky abortion clinic caught masquerading as a doctor’s office will remain closed after the state Supreme Court rejected the clinic owner’s appeal on Thursday, WUKY NPR reports.

This spring, pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration filed a lawsuit accusing the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington of illegally operating an abortion clinic disguised as a doctor’s office. Bevin’s administration asked a court for permission to close the practice, saying it was not licensed as an abortion facility. State health investigators also found unsanitary conditions inside the facility, according to the Courier Journal.

In March, a circuit judge denied the state’s request to close the facility; but a June appeals court ruling, made by an all-female panel of judges, reversed the decision in favor of the state, The Herald Leader reports.

The Lexington facility owner appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, but the court rejected his appeal on Thursday. The abortion facility will remain closed at least temporarily as a result of the decision.

In a statement, Bevin said he was glad to hear the news: “We are pleased that the Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision recognizing that an unlicensed abortion clinic is prohibited from performing abortions. The laws of Kentucky matter and must be followed, even when individuals, corporations or lower court judges think otherwise.”

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports more about the ruling:

The Supreme Court’s lengthy decision said the court was not ruling on larger issues of abortion, merely the request for injunctive relief decided by the Court of Appeals.

“EMW has failed to demonstrate why it should be exempt from licensure as an abortion facility,” the opinion reads. “EMW exists solely to perform abortions and offers little to no proof it does anything else other than performing that service in potentially substandard conditions, proving precisely why the Commonwealth requires these facilities to be licensed in the first place. So we do not think the Court of Appeals abused its discretion in finding the Cabinet has established a substantial question.”

The decision also recognized the political passion stoked by abortion, but said the court focused only on state and federal law — the state laws that require special rules for abortion clinics and the federal laws that guarantee women the right to an abortion.

Scott White, an attorney for the abortion facility, told reporters that they have not given up the fight to reopen.

“At the end of the day we are disappointed but in no way disheartened,” White said in a statement. “We are optimistic that when we have the full trial later this year before Judge Scorsone that we will win.”

According to the state’s lawsuit, the Lexington abortion clinic tried to pass itself off as a physician’s 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. According to state abortion statistics, the Lexington clinic performed 411 abortions on unborn babies in 2015.

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EMW owner Ernest Marshall even admitted to a judge in March that the clinic primarily does abortions, though it used to do more gynecological work, the Herald Leader reports.

State investigators also said they found 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 state officials caught 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.



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