Federal Judge to hear pro-abortion challenge to Kentucky law September 6

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

Pro-life Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

When last we wrote about the legal back-and-forth between Kentucky’s last abortion clinic and the administration of pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin, the governor had agreed for the time being to drop efforts to close the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.

(The state’s only other abortion clinic, the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, closed effective January 27.)

As a result the temporary restraining order U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers issued March 31 remains in effect until the case is resolved. The trial before Judge Stivers begins this Wednesday in Louisville.

(This challenge is separate from an ACLU lawsuit brought against Kentucky’s new ultrasound law, which went into effect January 9. U.S. District Judge David Hale [Thursday] heard the ACLU’s case—and the state’s spirited defense—on March 24.)

In the last week, plaintiffs ramped up their allegations against the Bevin Administration.

As NRL News Today has reported, at issue is the state requirement that abortion facilities “have written agreements with a licensed acute-care hospital treating patients and a written agreement with a licensed local ambulance service for the transport of an emergency patient and treatment of patients when hospitalization becomes necessary.”

In the letter sent by the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to the EMW, Kentucky Inspector General Robert Silverthorn said the “Emergency Transfer Agreement” was deficient on four separate grounds.

“Arguing that there’s no medical justification for the standards, the clinic is seeking a ruling that those requirements infringe on constitutional protections,” reported Deborah Yetter for the Louisville Courier. “Clinic attorney Donald L. Cox said the requirements have one purpose: ‘to give the state an excuse to prohibit abortions.’”

Bevin’s spokeswoman, Amanda Stamper countered, “The transfer agreements’ requirements in question — which were enacted in 1998 and not questioned for 19 years — are important measures for ensuring women have the proper life-saving procedures in place in the event of an emergency.” She added, “Essentially all health-care facilities in Kentucky are required to have such agreements, and it is telling that the abortion industry believes that it alone should be exempt.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has since been allowed to join in the lawsuit, which added money and legal muscle to the plaintiffs’ case. “Planned Parenthood argues that Bevin’s administration has used the transfer agreements to block its requests for a license to provide abortions in Louisville,” the Associated Press reported.

More specifically, according to Yetter,

Planned Parenthood said it will show pressure from Bevin caused the U of L Hospital to abruptly cancel a written agreement it had with Planned Parenthood to treat patients in an emergency — an agreement required by state law — and that the administration intimidated other local hospitals into refusing to sign off on such agreements.

Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper dismissed the allegations as untrue, saying there was no political pressure nor any threats from the administration.

“Planned Parenthood’s attempt to misconstrue the documents simply reflects its desire to divert attention from the weakness of its case,” she said.