Last Abortion Facility in Kentucky Sues to Block Compliance Order That Would Result in Closure

Photo Credit: Abortion Conversation Project

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Attorneys for the last remaining abortion facility in Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday in an effort to block a compliance order that would result in its closure.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services sent a letter to the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville earlier this month to advise that there were technical problems with the facility’s attempts to comply with the requirements to have agreements with a local hospital and ambulance service in the event of a medical emergency.

It noted that the Center’s filed agreement with University of Louisville Hospital was “not signed by an authorized representative” and that its arrangements with Mercy Ambulance were also deficient.

In response, the Center obtained a new ambulance agreement and also tried to convince the Cabinet that its current signature from the University of Louisville Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health was sufficient.

The Cabinet advised, however, that the state requires that the agreement be signed by the “owner of the acute care hospital, not a subordinate division.”

It also noted that the University of Louisville Hospital had recently discontinued an agreement with Planned Parenthood, meaning that it might no longer desire an agreement with the Center either. The hospital is run by Catholic Health Initiatives.

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.”

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“What they appear to be saying is we have to go to the Catholics to get permission to do abortions,” attorney Donald Cox told NBC News. “Not a very likely scenario.”

Therefore, because the facility has not been able to comply by the Cabinet’s deadline of April 3, the Center has filed suit with the assistance of the Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union.

“If Plaintiffs are forced to close their doors, Kentucky women will have almost no ability to access abortion in their state. Some would attempt to induce abortion without a medical provider; others would be forced to delay their abortions in order to travel long distances to other states, which increases the risk and cost associated with the procedure; and some will be forced to carry to term against their will,” the lawsuit contends.

The abortion facility is seeking an injunction against the requirements and a declaration that they are unconstitutional.

As previously reported, the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington closed earlier this year as it had been operating without a license, and its landlord decided not to renew the organization’s lease. The location had been locked in a court battle over the license requirement, which it lost last August as the rule was upheld by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

The Louisville location has been the center of much opposition as a number of local residents have regularly stood outside the facility holding signs such as “the killing place” and “thou shalt not kill.”


In an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Philadelphia doctor Hugh Lennox Hodge lamented that even the mothers of his day were lacking of natural affection toward their own children and sought out means to kill them.

“They seem not to realize that the being within them is indeed animate, that is, in verity, a human being—body and spirit—that it is of importance, that its value is inestimable, having reference to this world and the next,” he said. “They act with as much indifference as if the living, intelligent, immortal existence lodged within their organs were of no more value than the bread eaten, or the common excretions of the system.”

“We can bear testimony that in some instances, the woman who has been well educated, who occupies high stations in society, whose influence over others is great, and whose character has not been impugned, will deliberately resort to any and every measure which may effectively destroy her unborn offspring,” Hodge sorrowed.

“[S]he recklessly and boldly adopts measures, however severe and dangerous, for the accomplishment of her unnatural, her guilty purpose … that she may be delivered of [a child] for which she has no desire, and whose birth and appearance she dreads.”

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