Kentucky Could Be The First State To Have No Abortion Clinics At All
September will be a tense month for Kentucky's last abortion clinic, the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, as it will find out whether it can remain open or not. Supporters of safe access to reproductive health care fear that a legal battle could take away Kentucky's only abortion clinic. Gov. Matt Bevin's administration had ordered the Louisville facility to halt abortion services starting Monday, claiming that it lacks the required transfer agreements in order to facilitate patients in the event of a medical emergency. The center responded with a lawsuit describing the order as "blatantly unconstitutional," according to The Courier-Journal, a Louisville USA Today affiliate.
The New York Times reported that the main figure behind the increasingly hostile measures against abortion-centered health care is Bevin. A staunch opponent of abortion, Bevin is a Republican who lauds himself as "unapologetically pro-life" and is also "pro-family, and pro-second amendment."
There was a time when Kentucky had two centers that provided abortions. The former was in Lexington which announced the termination of its operations this year. The abysmal announcement of the shuttering of EMW Women's Clinic in Lexington was made on Facebook in January. The Kentucky National Organization for Women called the closing of the Lexington clinic a "permanent casualty" of Bevin's actions. Bustle has reached out to Bevin for comment and will update accordingly.
Bevin's anti-abortion legislative efforts include passing a legislation which would not allow abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Perhaps even more disturbing is how Bevin is the same figure behind the bill that required abortion clinics to carry out ultrasounds on the patient. The bill, which can be read here, required that the images and sounds would be described to the patient who can choose to look away or request that the volume of the sounds be lowered. The American Civil Liberties Union contested it by describing it as a violation of an individual's privacy which "compels women to listen to this government-mandated speech while lying captive on the examination table."
At this moment, Kentucky is one of the seven American states with only one abortion clinic. The other six are West Virginia, Missouri, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
In 2015, Planned Parenthood reported that Kentucky was one of the top 10 states with a high rate of pregnant teens. Although teen pregnancy remains low nationwide, the report showed that Kentucky ranked at number eight in the list, according to findings in the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
The consequences of removing Kentucky's singular abortion clinic could be devastating for Kentucky residents. With no licensed abortion center, women may have to resort to unsound and potentially fatal methods of abortion-based health care.
The EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville is aware of the implications, which is evident and clearly stated in the federal lawsuit. Without a functional facility in the entirety of the state, the suit claimed that "Kentucky women would be left without access to a critical and constitutionally protected medical procedure."