Federal Judge Rules to Protect Abortion Access in Kentucky

Ruling Keeps the Doors Open of Last Abortion Clinic in Kentucky; Paves the Way for Planned Parenthood to Expand Access. ACLU and Planned Parenthood Lawsuit Succeeds

Affiliate: ACLU of Kentucky
September 28, 2018 9:45 am

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Today, following 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, a federal district court struck down a Kentucky law that would have effectively banned abortion in the Commonwealth. This decision keeps 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 paves the way for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) to expand access to safe, legal abortion in Kentucky.

In March 2017, Kentucky threatened to revoke the license of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, alleging that the clinic’s agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service contained technical deficiencies despite having approved the same agreements in 2016. Furthermore, the state has flat out denied Planned Parenthood an abortion license because of its purported failure to comply with this medically unnecessary transfer agreement statute.

“The Court has carefully reviewed the evidence presented in this case and concludes that the record is devoid of any credible proof that the challenged regulations have any tangible benefit to women’s health,” the decision reads.

In 2016, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Texas – yet Kentucky politicians ignored the precedent-setting Texas case, and tried to use Kentucky’s medically unnecessary law to shut down the last clinic in the state and prevent Planned Parenthood from providing needed care. This case has gained even greater significance given that an impending change in the Supreme Court has raised serious questions about the future of legal abortion in the U.S.

“The court’s decision recognized the Kentucky law for what it is: an attack on women wrapped up in a bogus justification and pushed by politicians who’ve been transparent in their pursuit to ban abortion in the state of Kentucky,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “While today we celebrate a victory for women’s health, the fight continues at the state and federal level against the unprecedented attacks on women’s access to abortion.”

“This decision will come as a relief to women across Kentucky faced with the prospect of traveling hundreds of miles out-of-state for abortion care—or being blocked from care altogether,” said Don Cox, an attorney at Lynch, Cox, Gilman & Goodman P.S.C. “But Governor Bevin will undoubtedly continue his relentless anti-abortion agenda, and we will remain vigilant and fight those efforts.”

“PPINK praises today’s decision and looks forward to expanding abortion access soon. This is a victory for the many patients we see every day. For them, safe, legal abortion isn’t a matter of ideology or politics. It is necessary health care that allows them to live their fullest lives,” said Christie Gillespie, President and CEO of PPINK.

“In 37 years providing abortion, I’ve seen every over clinic close down in our state, and now ours is the last clinic standing in the entire state. The patients that walk through our doors have already dealt with so many obstacles—I’m glad that despite those challenges, they will still find our doors open to them thanks to this victory,” said Dr. Ernest Marshall, EMW Women’s Surgical Center.

More on this case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/emw-v-glisson

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