Fayette County

Lexington’s EMW Women’s Clinic, one of two Kentucky abortion providers, is closing

The EMW Women’s Clinic, 161 Burt Road in Lexington.
The EMW Women’s Clinic, 161 Burt Road in Lexington. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, one of two clinics in Kentucky that performs abortions, will close effective Jan. 27.

The news was posted on the Facebook page of the Kentucky chapter of the National Organization for Women, which called it “a permanent casualty of Kentucky’s governor, Matt Bevin.”

The clinic had spent the last 6 1/2 months trying unsuccessfully to obtain a state license and has lost the lease on the space it has occupied since 1989 at 161 Burt Road.

The phone was not answered at the Lexington EMW office on Saturday afternoon.

The announcement means that only the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville will continue to offer abortions in Kentucky.

On the Kentucky NOW Facebook page, EMW officials said that “There is, indeed, a chill wind blowing for women of Kentucky.”

The clinic has been closed since June, when the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned a Fayette Circuit court ruling that allowed it to stay open after a legal challenge by Bevin.

In August, the state Supreme Court denied an appeal that would have re-opened the clinic.

The clinic’s troubles centered on whether the clinic required a license; state law requires that a full-time abortion clinic be licensed.

In February 2016, the state received an anonymous complaint about the clinic, saying it solely provided abortions. Two state inspectors found the clinic was unlicensed and found what they termed unsanitary conditions, such as dust on equipment.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed suit for a temporary injunction to stop the clinic from performing abortions until it was licensed.

Scott White, an attorney who had represented the Lexington EMW clinic, said that the “anonymous” complaint in fact came from a senior employee of the cabinet and the state process to license clinics makes it seem like “they’re almost creating things to make the clinic non-compliant.”

“It’s a terrible hardship” for women in Eastern Kentucky, White said, to not have a Lexington clinic available. “The Supreme Court in my judgment totally overlooked that. I’m just sad we’re not going to have an opportunity to revisit that issue, the license issue.”

EMW in Louisville is fully licensed and performs abortions for women who are more than 12 weeks pregnant.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman