Kentucky's Last Abortion Clinic Can Stay Open for Now, Judge Says

Pro-life advocates wait for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case to be announced in Washington, June 30, 2014.
Pro-life advocates wait for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case to be announced in Washington, June 30, 2014. | (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

A federal judge put a halt to the closure of the only abortion clinic in the state of Kentucky, delaying the plans of the pro-life state government.

U.S. District Court Judge Greg Stivers of the Western District of Kentucky issued a temporary restraining order last Friday preventing EMW Women's Surgical Center of Louisville from closing.

Matt Bevin, governor of Kentucky. Elected in November of 2015.
Matt Bevin, governor of Kentucky. Elected in November of 2015. | (Photo:

"Plaintiffs have laid out specific facts in their verified complaint showing that the rights of their patients would be immediately and irreparably harmed absent a temporary restraining from this Court," read the order, which will last for two weeks.

"The balance of hardships also favors Plaintiffs because a temporary restraining order would preserve the status quo and give the Court the ability to make a meaningful ruling on the merits of this case."

Stivers also wrote in his order that the restraining order was justified because he believed that the clinic has "shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourteenth Amendment substantive and procedural due process claims."

"The entry of a temporary restraining order is in the public interest because the public is interested in the prevention of the potential unconstitutional enforcement of state law," continued the order.

"This temporary restraining order is being entered without notice to Defendant to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable harm until such time as the Court may hold a hearing."

Last month, Governor Matt Bevin and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a letter to Women's Surgical Center informing them that they were in violation of state regulations on abortion clinics and may have their license revoked.

According to the letter from last month, the abortion clinic was in violation of a state regulations mandating that the clinic have "written agreements with a licensed acute-care hospital treating patients and a written agreement with a licensed local ambulance service for the transport of an emergency patient and treatment of patients when hospitalization becomes necessary ..."

"The revocation suspension shall become final conclusive thirty (30) days after notice is given, unless the applicant or licensee, within the thirty (30) day period, shall file a request in writing for a hearing with the cabinet," continued the March letter.

In response to the letter, Women's Surgical Center filed suit to remain open, with the American Civil Liberties Union also seeking to strike down the state law being used to close the clinic.

Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, released a statement last Friday stating that she supported the restraining order.

"Kentucky women will not have to face the frightening reality of seeing the last abortion clinic in their state close," stated Amiri.

"While this is a relief, it is just the first victory in the legal battle. We will continue to fight to ensure that women in Kentucky, and throughout the country, can get the care that they need."

Doug Hogan, spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in a statement that the government department is "surprised and disappointed the court entered a temporary restraining order without input from the cabinet and without first ascertaining the status of communications between both parties."

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