In January, Kentucky joined six other states that are down to just a single abortion provider. Now that President Trump has allowed states to withhold Federal X family planning to clinics that provide abortions, Kentucky’s sole clinic risks elimination.
If EMW Women’s Surgical Clinic in Louisville closes, there will be zero abortion clinics in the state, making Kentucky the only state in the country with no access to safe and legal abortion.
The women’s healthcare provider was most recently targeted when Republican Gov. Matt Bevin filed a lawsuit against it for not complying with state laws related to local hospital and ambulance services. These laws have been deemed medically unnecessary for clinics that focus on reproductive health, and the politicians who write and enforce them disguise the legislation as "pro-women’s health," but really only aim to set impossible standards for clinics so they can close them permanently.
According to WCPO News in Cincinnati, lawyers for both the EMW clinic and Gov. Bevin sent an agreement to a U.S. district judge last week stating the clinic’s license will be renewed until the lawsuit is resolved, so it’s safe for now.
Still, EMW workers and volunteers fear for the clinic’s future. According to a Newsweek report, there were about 75 protesters outside the building on a Saturday in March, following clients from their cars to the entrance of the building. Anti-abortion protestors, or “chasers,” have become so increasingly aggressive, EMW now has escorts to accompany clients.
Fausta Luchini has volunteered at the clinic for about eight years, and told Newsweek EMW escorts try to provide space between clients and protesters.
“One [protester] in particular likes to walk in front of them and walk backwards,” Luchini said. “We call him Backwards Bob.”
Despite anti-choice efforts, EMW lawyers say they will try to prove the state’s lawsuit is politically motivated and isn’t actually trying to protect women’s healthcare. But Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services released a statement last week saying they are “confident” they will win their suit.
If the clinic is closed, women in Louisville and surrounding areas will have to travel out of state for safe and legal abortions. This is likened to pre-Roe v. Wade days by Kate Cunningham, President of A Fund, a volunteer-based organization that helps Kentucky women pay for abortions.
"Before Roe, there were women driving through the night to take women from Louisville to New York to access abortion,” she told Newsweek. “We hope and trust we don’t have to go back there, to those days, but that’s where we are. It’s so tough.”
Top photo via Wikimedia Commons
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