EMW v. Meier (formerly EMW v. Glisson)
What's at Stake
The ACLU and attorneys at Lynch, Cox, Gilman & Goodman P.S.C. filed the federal lawsuit aimed at blocking unnecessary and unconstitutional state laws to prevent the closure of the state’s only abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center. In March 2017, the state threatened to revoke the clinic’s license, alleging that the clinic’s agreements with a hospital and ambulance service contained technical deficiencies, even though the state approved those same agreements in renewing EMW’s license in 2016. Based on these alleged deficiencies, the state claimed that EMW was not incompliance with state law requiring abortion providers to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital and a transport agreement with an ambulance service.
On September 28, 2018, a federal district court struck down the Kentucky law requiring transfer and transport agreements that, if enforced, would have effectively banned abortion in the Commonwealth by forcing the last abortion clinic to close. The court’s decision followed a three-day trial in September 2017, during which experts and abortion providers testified to the devastating impact of shutting down Kentucky’s last abortion clinic. This decision kept open the doors of the only health center in Kentucky that provides safe and legal abortion care, EMW Women’s Surgical Center. The decision also paved the way for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) to expand access to safe, legal abortion in Kentucky.
On April 29, 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court decision holding that the plaintiffs could seek extensions of time to comply with the requirements, and remanded the case for further consideration, where the case is still pending.
The law that Kentucky used to attempt to shut down the clinic is very similar to Texas laws that the Supreme Court struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016. In that case, the Court held that requiring business arrangements with a hospital served no medical purpose and instead posed real harm to women.