Friday, April 7, 2017

Bevin slows down effort to close Ky.'s only remaining abortion clinic; his efforts have led to the closure of two others

Gov. Matt Bevin has scaled back his effort to close Kentucky's only abortion clinic, agreeing to renew its license until a lawsuit challenging the effort is resolved. Bevin's lawyers and the attorneys for EMW Women's Surgical Center of Louisville filed the agreement with U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers, who is expected to approve it.

"The legal wrangling started recently when the state told the clinic it was out of compliance with state laws related to its agreements with a local hospital and ambulance service," reports Bruce Schreiner of The Associated Press. "That spurred the federal lawsuit claiming the state's move was unconstitutional and accusing the state of violating Kentucky law by not giving proper notice of action against the clinic's license."

The state indicated that the clinic could be closed as quickly as Monday, April 3, but Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesman Doug Hogan said that was never the state's intention because the clinic had a right to a due-process hearing.

"Two other clinics, one in Louisville and the other in Lexington, have stopped offering abortions in the past year after enforcement actions by the Bevin administration, leaving EMW as the state's sole abortion provider. One, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, is appealing the state's refusal to issue a license for it to provide abortions at its clinic in downtown Louisville," Deborah Yetter reports for The Courier-Journal.

The state alleged that the EMW's agreements with an ambulance service and a hospital were "deficient," Yetter reports. "Its inspectors had approved them last year when the clinic got its annual license. EMW, in its lawsuit, said its transfer agreements comply with state law. But its lawsuit goes further in challenging the requirement, saying such agreements are not necessary and should be struck down." It says that complications from abortion are rare, that the procedure is one of the safest, and that ambulance and hospital services are readily available.

"The transfer agreements also are part of the dispute between Planned Parenthood and the state over its license," Yetter notes. "The state has refused to accept its agreement with two hospitals and an ambulance service, a decision Planned Parenthood has appealed."

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