Trial concludes in lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s abortion clinic transfer law

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers

Three days of testimony before a federal judge concluded Friday in the lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s law requiring abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital in case of an emergency. According to the Associated Press,” Instead of closing arguments, attorneys in the case will present post-trial briefs to U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers within 60 days.”

The challenge was initially brought by EMW Women’s Surgical Center of Louisville, Kentucky’s lone remaining abortion clinic, but Judge Stivers, who is hearing the case without a jury, allowed Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky to join in.

The nub of the lawsuit is that the transfer agreement is both unnecessary and a ruse to block access to abortion and unnecessary—“They’re about shutting down abortion facilities,” said Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU attorney for EMW. Amiri insisted there were no problems until Matt Bevin became governor.

But Gov. Bevin’s attorney, Steve Pitt, countered (according to WDRB) that

the real problem is that past administrations were lackadaisical in enforcing regulations that required abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals and ambulance services.

“You may remember that Planned Parenthood reported that it had done 23 abortions without a license,” Pitt said. “That caused the cabinet then to start looking these transport agreements.”

The plaintiffs insisted the Bevin administration was strong-arming local hospitals and the University of Louisville hospital to persuade them not to agree to a transfer arrangement, or, in the case of the University of Louisville, of backing out.

But “The state has denied putting any pressure on KentuckyOne to rescind its agreement with Planned Parenthood,” reporter Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier reported. (KentuckyOne Health was managing the hospital last year when it backed out of its agreement with Planned Parenthood.)

Planned Parenthood and EMW claim the state is making compliance impossible by continually changing the rules.

However, as WDRB’s Lawrence Smith reported

Pitt said the administration said any changes are meant to clarify the rules not confuse them and that EMW has been given every opportunity to comply.

“There is absolutely no political or religious connotation here,” Pitt said. “This is question of women’s safety and health.”

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