Kentucky's Governor Is Trying to Close the State's Last Abortion Clinic

Image via AP Photo.
Image via AP Photo.

Rigidly anti-abortion Kentucky governor Matt Bevin, a real stand-up guy who recently made Kentucky a “Right to Work” state and, like someone else we know, refuses to release his tax returns, is currently doing his absolute best to close Kentucky’s last abortion clinic.


Since taking power, the Bevin administration has filed lawsuits against multiple abortion clinics in Kentucky, eventually leaving only one abortion provider in Louisville; that provider, the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, has been ordered by the Bevin administration to stop performing abortions beginning Monday, on the grounds that it does not have adequate transfer agreements in place in case of emergency. In a lawsuit filed by EMW on Wednesday, joined by the ACLU, the clinic calls the order “blatantly unconstitutional” and asserts that its transfer agreements comply with the law and were approved last year during an annual inspection; the state purportedly takes issue with the fact that EMW doesn’t specify the hospital in question. From the Courier-Journal:

The state also argued that Planned Parenthood’s agreement with Louisville Emergency Medical Services to transport patients is deficient because it doesn’t specifically identify the hospital to which it would transport patients.

University of Louisville Hospital last year backed out of a transfer agreement with Planned Parenthood to accept patients, citing outside pressure, but said it would not turn away any patient in an emergency.

Hm! Outside pressure! Wonder where that came from? Wonder why EMW couldn’t identify a hospital? Transfer agreements are often used by states to limit abortion rights; according to the Guttmacher Institute, these hospital relationships “add nothing to existing patient protections while granting hospitals effective veto power over whether an abortion provider can exist.” Hospitals can’t turn away emergency patients, so the idea that there needs to be an official hospital-clinic relationship for proper care in case of a medical emergency is rather egregiously untrue. The University of Louisville hospital, of course, relies on state funding; in the case of Planned Parenthood, according to a lawyer for PPINK, the threat included “funding issues not only for the hospital but for U of L.” The implication here, of course, is that the transfer agreement required by the state was made impossible by the state.

The newly Republican-controlled Kentucky legislature also recently passed bills banning abortions after 20 weeks (with no exceptions for rape or incest) and requiring doctors performing abortions to perform, show, and describe an ultrasound beforehand. EMW and the ACLU are suing to challenge the ultrasound law, arguing that the law violates the free speech of doctors and patients. Women in Kentucky seeking abortions are also required to receive counseling including information designed to discourage them from having the abortion, and to wait 24 hours before the procedure takes place.

“They’ve made it clear they won’t stop until no woman can get an abortion in Kentucky,” Donald L. Cox, a lawyer for EMW, told the Courier-Journal. “It’s just an attempt to ban abortion in Kentucky.”

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.


Lana del ¿Qué?

I live in a super-Catholic country where abortion is 100% illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, unless the mother’s health is at risk. Most recent heart-breaking case - a pregnant 13-year-old (raped by biological father), pleading and suicidal, asking to end the pregnancy. Counsel is trying to argue on the basis of mental health risk, but her chance of actually getting an abortion is nil.

My point is, the US is headed this way, and it is a fucking shitty and fearful way to live, as a woman - even with free birth control (which we do have, “at least”), even as a woman with a certain degree of privilege (like me). For those who don’t have any privilege or power in the world, it’s utter despair.