Shared from PopSugar
Kentucky is once again on the verge of becoming the only state in the nation without a single abortion clinic. On Sept. 6, the legal showdown between the Bluegrass State’s final remaining abortion provider and the state will once again resume in court.
The lone remaining clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, sued Kentucky’s secretary for the Cabinet of Health and Family Services in March of this year after the state demanded it shut its doors. The clinic narrowly escaped the closure, ordered for April 3, when a judge stepped in to issue a temporary restraining order. (The order was later extended.)
So, why did the state try to force EMW close its doors after nearly 40 years in the first place? Kentucky maintains that the clinic was ordered to shut down because the hospital and ambulance services it had agreements with were not up to snuff and that the closure was mandated due to a concern for patient safety. The state requires abortion clinics to forge approved agreements with local hospital and ambulance services in the case of a medical emergency in order to operate and reserves the right to revoke licenses for clinics that don’t satisfy those demands.
“If this law is not struck down, access to safe, legal abortion for women in Kentucky will be virtually eliminated.”
In court documents, EMW and its lawyers argue that the threat of closure and revocation of the clinic’s medical license came “out of the blue” — and that they’d used the same state-approved hospital agreement for more than two years before the state informed them of the decision. The clinic is joined by some formidable coplaintiffs in the legal action, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
At the heart of the case, however, isn’t just the question of whether the clinic met the state’s standards. Instead, EMW and its coplaintiffs are challenging the legality of the very requirements themselves. The Kentucky law represents one of several hundred state-level laws that pro-choice proponents say have been passed in recent years under the guise of a concern for women’s health and well-being. Activists say the actual intention is to make the barriers to operation for abortion providers so difficult to clear that, in many cases, they are simply forced to close their doors. They argue that while the Kentucky law may not explicitly deem abortion illegal, the closure of EMW would effectively do just that, making the procedure impossible to legally obtain in the state.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a staunchly antiabortion politician, has advanced several efforts limiting reproductive freedom while in office. Bevin’s spokeswoman Amanda Stamper told the Associated Press on Sept. 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.”
Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s chief medical officer, Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, tells POPSUGAR the Kentucky law must go. “If this law is not struck down, access to safe, legal abortion for women in Kentucky will be virtually eliminated,” McDonald-Mosley said. “We’ve seen what happens in states like Texas after politicians shut down clinics and women were forced to travel hundreds of miles and cross state lines to access an abortion, if they could at all.”
The highest court in the land has already sided with EMW and Planned Parenthood’s argument. The Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Texas in the landmark case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt last Summer. In that case, a clinic took the state to court over a requirement similar to the Kentucky law. It required doctors who provide abortions to maintain admittance privileges at a hospital and for abortion clinics to meet the same building requirements that ambulatory service centers must fulfill, which clinics argued would cost them exorbitant remodeling fees. In her opinion on the case, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it was “beyond rational belief” that the law would do anything to protect women’s health and that the requirements were medically unnecessary given the safety of abortion as a medical procedure.
This isn’t the only legal fight EMW is currently waging against the state. EMW and the ACLU have also sued over another abortion-related law, passed in February, which requires doctors to show women seeking an abortion ultrasound footage of the fetus. The legislation makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest but does state that a woman cannot be stopped from “averting her eyes” or from requesting the “volume of the heartbeat be be reduced or turned off if the heartbeat is audible.”
Original Article and Images from PopSugar