Kentucky’s Last Abortion Provider Goes To Trial

by Bri Kane



Kentucky is not normally on the forefront of lawmaking, let alone breaking news – but the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, KY is in a heated legal battle that is getting everyone’s attention. The center opened in 1980 and didn’t garner a lot of attention until 2015, when House Representative Matt Bevin won his election on Trump’s coattails. The election was particularly exciting for Republicans for two reasons: the GOP took control of the House for the first time in nearly 100 years, and that means they can attack abortion providers and pro-choice organizations. The laws in Kentucky already changed in January and February of 2016, mandating a 20-week ban on abortions and requiring that physicians must not only perform but also narrate an ultrasound. So why is EMW Women’s Surgical Center still fighting to keep its doors open? Now, the Kentucky GOP is going after them about “transfer agreements” – what’s that smell? Smells kind of like B.S, right?

The “transfer agreements” with local hospitals are about providing transportation to patients of the EMW Center in case of emergency — sounds a bit “extra,” as that is so rare with abortion procedures, but fine, so what’s the problem? Well, the Catholic Health Care Organization, which is a part owner of the nearby University of Louisville Hospital, refuses to sign said agreement because they morally disagree with abortion. Dr. Ernest Marshall, founder of EMW, explained the situation quite succinctly: “We are under assault.” The stacking of laws limiting (and eventually closing) abortion clinics is staggering in Kentucky, which in 1978 had 17 abortion providers and now has only one. Women are traveling hundreds of miles, risking their job security and possibly their lives to make the trip – then, they have to cough up cash for a hotel stay, since the 24-hour waiting period unofficially forces them to stay in the area. How much do you think it costs to drive 200 miles, in a rented car, with 2 small children, and stay in a hotel overnight? Whatever the cost, it’s much too high for something that is supposed to be safe, accessible and, possibly most relevent, legal.


Keep Abortion Safe Legal Accessible

Testimony in this trail began Wednesday, September 6th and is expected to go on for some days – although it could be months before a final decision is reached. The first day of testimony involved Dr. Marshall who advocated that his clinic provides “safe and…quality care.” Don Cox, one of the attorneys for EMW, confidently stated we should expect Planned Parenthood witnesses and “a lot of progress” in the upcoming days – could this confidence be the calm before the storm? How long can the women and families of Kentucky wait before they know for sure if their constitutional right to safe, accessible and legal abortion will be upheld?

The future is unclear for Kentucky at the moment, as Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney representing EMW, said if they lose this case “there would be an effective ban on abortion.” Rep. Bevin would love that, stating he hopes “Kentucky will lead the way” on abortion rights and describing himself as “unapologetically prolife.” There are approximately 4.4 million people living in Kentucky, half of which are women, and they need our help. By volunteering at a clinic, specifically as a safe escort, or donating to ACLU, you can make sure one more person is safe when they get an abortion. If you’re local, CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES; here’s Rep. Matt Bevin’s contact info: Mailing Address: 700 Capital Ave, Suite 100, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601 and his office phone number is (502) 564-2611.

Photos from WikimediaCommons

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