Kentucky Abortion Facility to Close After License Denied, Leaving One Remaining Provider in State

LEXINGTON, Ky. — An abortion facility in Kentucky is set to close later this month after state officials denied its owners a license, leaving just one abortion provider in the state.

The closing of EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington was announced on Friday by the Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for Women as it relayed a message from the facility’s executive director.

“As you know, for the past 6 1/2 months we have diligently pursued obtaining a license to operate an abortion facility. Although we and our attorney believed we had fulfilled all the requirements to obtain the license, the Inspector General of Kentucky disagreed and denied us the license,” she wrote.

The landlord for EMW has also declined to renew the lease, effectively booting the abortion facility from the building.

As previously reported, Kentucky law requires that full-time abortion facilities obtain licenses from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in order to perform abortions. EMW had been in a year-long battle with the state over the requirement, which it asserted was inapplicable to its activities.

The situation began in February 2016 after the Cabinet received a tip that the location had been operating without a license. It inspected EMW and found that the facility was indeed unlicensed, and that conditions were also unsanitary. The state then filed for an injunction to stop the facility from operating until it complied with the law.

But attorneys for EMW asserted that a license wasn’t needed since it served as a women’s health clinic that also performed abortions. The state rebuffed the argument, contending that the location was indeed a full-time abortion facility.

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In March, Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone denied the state’s request for an injunction, opining that Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration had misinterpreted the law. However, in June, the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed the decision, declaring that the facility may not operate without a license.

“[T]he circuit court’s findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous,” the all-female panel wrote. “The Cabinet is not seeking to prevent women from obtaining abortions. It is seeking, however, to enforce its right to regulate the manner in which abortions are performed in this commonwealth.”

Attorneys for EMW Women’s Clinic then appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which upheld the appeals court ruling in August.

“EMW has failed to demonstrate why it should be exempt from licensure as an abortion facility,” it wrote. “EMW exists solely to perform abortions and offers little to no proof it does anything else other than performing that service in potentially substandard conditions, proving precisely why the Commonwealth requires these facilities to be licensed in the first place.”

The closure of the Lexington location now leaves one remaining abortion facility in Kentucky, which is licensed with the state.

“I am thrilled beyond words that EMW abortion facility is closing. It is an answer to years of prayer,” Diana Maldonado with Right to Life of Central Kentucky told WTVQ-TV.

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