Trial to determine fate of Kentucky's lone abortion clinic

Soon, women may not have access to an abortion clinic in the state of Kentucky because of some new requirements imposed by the Bevin administration.

Steve Pitt, attorney for the state, told the court Wednesday that the state is trying to protect women's health by enforcing the law, which has been in place for almost 20 years, the AP reports.

The clinic argues the requirements are an unconstitutional barrier to abortion, because they lack "medical justification".

"The stakes in this case couldn't be higher: the very right to access legal abortion in the state of Kentucky is on the line", said Dr. Ernest Marshall, who opened the clinic in the early 1980s.

The argument is over a transfer agreement.

The clinic disagreed and filed a federal lawsuit to keep their license. U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers blocked the clinic's closure until the dispute could be heard at trial.

Clinic officials argued those impossible demands had no medical basis and would shut the clinic down. Clinic attorney Donald L. Cox said the requirements have one objective: "to give the state an excuse to prohibit abortions".

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services said it simply wants the facility to have agreements with a hospital and an ambulance company, in the event of an emergency.

That's where the state will square off against EMW Women's Surgical Center on Wednesday.

The state's lawyers took aim at claims the requirements aren't medically essential.

Because of him and his administration, hundreds of Kentucky women could be heavily limited in their health care choices and many unsafe, "at-home" abortions could occur, some of which may kill the women who use them.

While pro-lifers may think this is a reason to celebrate, attorney Donald L. Cox for EMW Women's Clinic meant his statement to cause concern. The socially conservative governor calls himself an "unapologetically pro-life individual". Bevin's spokeswoman Amanda Stamper told the Associated Press on September 4 that the law in question in the EMW case is necessary and institutes "important measures for ensuring women have the proper life-saving procedures in place in the event of an emergency". A woman having to travel to another state for an abortion is definitely an undue burden. The requirements have one objective: "to give the state an excuse to prohibit abortions", according to clinic attorney Donald L. Cox.

Kentucky's government issued the new requirements as states around the country increasingly try to broaden abortion restrictions. The law says she can avert her eyes. IN and Kentucky's Planned Parenthoods also joined the lawsuit.

Now, both sides will argue over the validity of these agreements.

The state claims it is guarding patient safety and women would still have access to abortions should the clinic be forced to close.

"Will we build on the momentum of last year's Supreme Court decision upholding abortion rights?"

  • Jon Douglas