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Kentucky’s Lone Abortion Provider Sues State To Stay Open

Ashley Lopez

The last abortion provider in Kentucky is suing the state to stay open after Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration gave the clinic notice that it would be shut down.

According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the state health cabinet gave notice to EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville on March 13 that the clinic was out of compliance with state regulations and that their license would be revoked within 10 days.

The clinic then got an extension until April 3.

The lawsuit claims that revoking the clinic’s license would have “drastic” effects on the state.

“If EMW is forced to close its doors, there will be no licensed abortion facility in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and Kentucky women will be left without access to a critical and constitutionally protected medical procedure in the Commonwealth,” the lawsuit states.

Doug Hogan, a spokesman for the state health cabinet, said they have received a copy of the lawsuit and are reviewing it.

According to the cabinet’s letter to EMW, which was attached to the lawsuit, the state’s renewal of the clinic’s license last year “was in error.” The letter claims that the facility’s required agreements with a hospital and ambulance service were both deficient.

The ACLU and EMW argue that the clinic should have been given a hearing about the revocation of its license.

They also allege that the state’s actions are in retaliation to their challenge to the state’s new ultrasound abortion requirement, which is pending in federal court.

Under that law, doctors are required to conduct an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion, narrate a detailed description of the unborn fetus and provide audio of the heartbeat.

The Bevin administration brought a similar lawsuit against Planned Parenthood in Louisville last year. A trial court judge ruled against the state, though it was appealed and is currently pending.

Bevin’s administration successfully sued EMW’s Lexington clinic last year, saying the facility provided abortions without a license. The facility closed in January.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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