Friday, March 31, 2017

Kentucky's last abortion clinic says Bevin is trying to shut it down, gets restraining order

Without even having a hearing, a federal judge has ordered the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services not to close Kentucky's only remaining abortion clinic.

"The order issued Friday by U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers follows a lawsuit by EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville seeking to block the state's effort to close the clinic over alleged deficiencies in its license," reports Deborah Yetter of The Courier-Journal. "Stivers said in his order that prior notice is not necessary in a case where facts 'clearly show' that harm, irreparable injury or damage will occur before a hearing can be held. . . . He said the clinic's lawyers had shown 'a strong likelihood of success on the merits' of their claim."

Cabinet spokesman Doug Hogan said officials were "surprised and disappointed the court entered a temporary restraining order without input from the cabinet and without first ascertaining the status of communications between both parties." Hogan added, "EMW's license was never in immediate jeopardy. The cabinet had informed counsel for EMW no final decision would be made regarding the abortion facility’s license until the administrative due process hearing required by Kentucky statutory law was complete."

The cabinet has alleged "technical" deficiencies in EMW's transfer agreements with local hospitals and an ambulance service, a condition state law sets for a license to perform abortions. It said the clinic could be closed Monday, April 3. That would make Kentucky the only state with no legal abortion services.

EMW said in its lawsuit, filed Wednesday, that its license is not deficient and that Gov. Matt Bevin is trying to abolish legal abortion in Kentucky. "The abortion clinic has had its agreements with the University of Louisville Hospital and Mercy Ambulance on file with the cabinet for several years," the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

"Two other abortion providers ceased operations over the past year following enforcement actions by the Bevin administration," Yetter notes. "Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky suspended offering abortions at its clinic in downtown Louisville, and EMW closed a small, part-time office in Lexington . . . after the state refused to issue it a license. Planned Parenthood has appealed the state's action against its license."

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