20 States Sue to Stop Kentucky From Closing Down Its Last Abortion Clinic

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 5, 2019   |   10:24AM   |   Washington, DC

Democrat attorneys general in 20 states got involved in a Kentucky legal battle this week over a law that could close the last remaining abortion facility in the state.

On Thursday, they filed an amicus brief in support of a judge’s decision to strike down the law, The Nevada Independent reports.

At the center of the case is a law meant to protect the health and safety of women who suffer from botched abortions. The law requires abortion facilities to have transfer agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service in case of patient emergencies.

A federal judge ruled against it in 2018, but Kentucky is appealing the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In their brief Thursday, the pro-abortion attorneys general argued that the availability of abortions in neighboring states should not be an argument in favor of the law, according to the report.

Here’s more from the report:

The states say that their health-care infrastructure would be strained if neighboring states relied on them to provide abortion services.

“Funding abortions for indigent women from out of state could divert scant health-care resources away for state residents,” the brief states.

[Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford], in a statement, reiterated those concerns.

“Today’s brief impacts states like Nevada because neighboring states could use our status as a state that allows reproductive healthcare services to restrict a woman’s constitutional right to these services in her own state,” he said.

Also signing the brief were attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington

The abortion groups that challenged the law claimed pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is 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, and the American Civil Liberties Union is representing them.

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Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a pro-abortion Democrat, also is fighting against the state law. He is running for governor against Bevin as well.

“In doing so, Andy Beshear once again strongly aligned himself with the pro-abortion groups, ACLU and Planned Parenthood,” Bevin spokesman Woody Maglinger told the AP in a statement.

He said Beshear does not represent “the interests and popular will of the vast majority of Kentuckians who value not only life, but the safety of women who elect to undergo abortions.”

Meanwhile, 16 pro-life state attorneys general filed a brief supporting the state, the Courier Journal reports.

“Under the Constitution, states have the authority to pass and enforce reasonable laws,” said Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, the lead author of the brief. “Requiring abortion clinics to maintain basic health and safety standards falls well within a state’s prerogative.”

Bevin’s administration has argued 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.

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.

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 a new Planned Parenthood facility in Louisville doing abortions without a license.