Lawyers for a Lexington, Kentucky, abortion facility and the state of Kentucky were in court Wednesday, March 16, over allegations that the facility was performing abortions without a license.
Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone heard the arguments regarding whether or not to temporarily block the state from closing the facility while the state pursues its lawsuit. However, he did not immediately rule on whether EMW Women’s Clinic can resume providing abortions or be forced to shut down.
While the judge takes time to make this decision, women with scheduled abortions on Thursday and Friday will have to reschedule those appointments. The Bevin administration’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services could fine the clinic up to $10,000 for each abortion provided while the lawsuit is in place.
This is the second abortion facility to be ordered to cease and desist since pro-life Governor Matt Bevin took office in 2015. The other is a Planned Parenthood in Louisville which had only recently begun offering abortions in January after canceling their federal family planning dollars.
“Planned Parenthood in Louisville cut off their federal funding from the city,” explained Monica Henderson, executive director of Louisville’s A Woman’s Choice pregnancy center. “Title X was terminated right before they started offering abortions. It’s really interesting and curious to me that the chapter director for Planned Parenthood says that they calculated what was in their best interest financially – walking away from Title X made more sense financially. I think it was because they were going to start offering abortions and they could make more money off abortions than they could from the city for family planning. They plan on a lot more business whether it’s everything else that they do besides abortion or everything plus abortions.”
With both of these facilities currently unable to provide abortions, there is only one active abortion center in the state of Kentucky: EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.
According to the Courier-Journal, EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington has been operating as a physician’s office and did not think it needed a license. In addition, the state’s lawsuit said a February 18 inspection of the facility – its first since 2006 – found that the facility’s only service is abortion – which means it is ineligible for the licensure exemption given to private doctor’s offices. That same inspection revealed that the facility had expired medications and was unsanitary. It was also found to lack the legally required transport agreement with an ambulance service to bring women to the hospital should a patient suffer abortion complications.
EMW’s lawyer Scott White and Planned Parenthood’s lawyer Thomas Clay both believe Gov. Bevin is acting on a “personal vendetta” by suing the abortion centers, despite the fact that the facilities were in violation of the law. White argued that until Bevin took office, no one from the state paid much attention to the unlicensed EMW facility or tried to shut them down.
Scorsone said he would notify both sides when he issues a ruling.