Judges Strikes Down Kentucky Pro-Life Law That Could Have Made the State Abortion-Free

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 28, 2018   |   6:15PM   |   Frankfort, KY

A federal judge ruled against a Kentucky pro-life law Friday that required abortion facilities to have transfer agreements with hospitals and ambulances for patient emergencies.

The Courier Journal reports U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers argued the regulations were unconstitutional. The abortion groups that challenged the law claimed pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration was using it to shut down the last abortion facility in the state.

Kentucky currently has one abortion facility, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, and Planned Parenthood has been trying to open a second one for years. Both are involved in the lawsuit.

Last year, Bevin’s administration told Stivers that EMW Women’s Clinic in Louisville is not adequately prepared to help patients if emergency complications arise. They said the facility is not in compliance with a 1998 state law that requires it to have hospital and ambulance service transfer agreements for patient emergencies.

Here’s more from the report:

The Bevin administration has denied a license to Planned Parenthood, rejecting its transfer agreements as insufficient, and sought to revoke EMW’s license on similar grounds.

The revocation of EMW’s license would have made Kentucky the only state without a single abortion provider. Stivers had ordered that EMW could remain open while the legal challenge is pending.

The ruling follows a three-day trial before Stivers in September 2017.

At the trial, lawyers for Bevin and the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services argued the transfer agreements are essential for patient health and safety.

But lawyers for Planned Parenthood and EMW argued the state was using the requirement for such agreements to try to obstruct the clinics’ licenses by adding additional demands not in the law and by trying to intimidate some hospitals into refusing to enter such agreements.

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The two abortion businesses have argued that the state just wants to shut them down, and the regulations are not necessary because abortion complication rates are low. They claimed the regulations are unconstitutional because they restrict women’s access to abortion.

Previously, Amanda Stamper, a spokeswoman for the governor, responded by saying the requirements help ensure the “proper life-saving procedures” are in place in case a woman needs them.

“The transfer agreements’ requirements in question – which were enacted in 1998 and not questioned for 19 years – are important measures for ensuring women have the proper life-saving procedures in place in the event of an emergency,” Stamper said, previously.

Bevin’s administration has been working aggressively to close abortion facilities that do not comply with the law.

In 2016, 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 2016, Bevin’s administration also caught the new Planned Parenthood facility in Louisville doing abortions without a license.