Judge halts shutdown of state's last abortion clinic

"Plaintiffs have laid out specific facts in their verified complaint showing that the rights of their patients would be immediately and irreparably harmed absent a temporary restraining (order) from this court", Stivers' order said.

"The fundamental right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes the right to choose to have an abortion, subject to certain limitations", he asserted.

The ACLU has called the attempted enforcement action "an attempt to ban abortion in Kentucky". The judge's order will only last for 14 days.

The Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services notified EMW Women's Surgical Center in downtown Louisville that its license would be revoked on April 3 due to alleged deficiencies with its agreements with a hospital and ambulance service. The compliance concerns the clinic's agreements with a local hospital and ambulance service. The issue is that even though the hospital has signed an agreement with EMW, the state says the actual owner of the hospital must sign the agreement. The University of Louisville hospital, of course, relies on state funding; in the case of Planned Parenthood, according to a lawyer for PPINK, the threat included "funding issues not only for the hospital but for U of L". The public hospital is affiliated with Catholic Health Initiatives, a faith-based health system in Colorado.

While the abortion facility was soon able to obtain a signature from the interim president, he pulled out of the agreement and "asked that the amended agreement not be sent to the cabinet". "We will continue to fight to ensure that women in Kentucky, and throughout the country, can get the care that they need". "Not a very likely scenario".

Stivers' ruling came on the heels of a federal lawsuit that the clinic filed against the state of Kentucky.

Bevin, who is publicly opposed to abortion, used a similar argument to block the procedure from being performed at EMW's other clinic in Lexington and at the Louisville clinic of Planned Parenthood of in and Kentucky. "We will do everything we can to make sure he doesn't get his way".

EMW's lawsuit, filed by Cox and the American Civil Liberties Union, said shutting down the clinic "will have a devastating impact on Kentucky women" who have no other options in the state for abortion.

Doug Hogan, spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the cabinet is "surprised and disappointed" by the temporary restraining order granted "without input from the Cabinet and without first ascertaining the status of communications between both parties". "From a practical standpoint, the [temporary restraining order] was unnecessary, as EMW's license was never in immediate jeopardy".

The suit said if EMW is forced to shut down, "there will be no licensed abortion facility in the Commonwealth of Kentucky".

The ACLU made its case for the EMW Women's Surgical Center on the same grounds, stating in a press release that the nation's highest court has already decided Bevin's mandate serves no other objective than to pose "real harm to women".

  • Salvatore Jensen