Politics & Government

Lexington abortion clinic asks Supreme Court to overturn ruling that closed it

An attorney for the EMW Women’s Clinic, at 161 Burt Road in Lexington, called the Court of Appeals’ ruling “hogwash.”
An attorney for the EMW Women’s Clinic, at 161 Burt Road in Lexington, called the Court of Appeals’ ruling “hogwash.” cbertram@herald-leader.com

A Lexington abortion clinic asked the Kentucky Supreme Court on Tuesday to overturn a recent appellate court ruling that closed the clinic at the request of Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.

The EMW Women’s Clinic of Lexington, represented by Lexington attorney Scott White, said in its 45-page request to the state’s highest court that the clinic is basically “shut down.”

The Court of Appeals “adopted verbatim the gauzy excuse of the commonwealth that it was not trying to shut down abortion clinics in Kentucky (there is now only one) but to insure the safety of women using those facilities,” White wrote. “We call HOGWASH on that. That ignores the context of this suit.”

Gov. Matt Bevin opposes the clinic’s request. His press secretary, Amanda Stamper, said in an email that the unanimous decision by the three members of the appellate court earlier this month to temporarily close the clinic was “well thought out and based upon clear Kentucky law.”

“We are confident that its injunction closing down an unsanitary and unlicensed abortion clinic will be affirmed,” Stamper said.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on June 15 reversed a Fayette Circuit Court ruling and granted the Bevin administration’s request to temporarily close the clinic on Burt Road until it receives a license from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or until a final judgment is rendered in the case.

“As the cabinet points out, this case is not about a woman’s right to an abortion,” the appellate court said in its 24-page order. “The cabinet is not seeking to prevent women from obtaining abortions. It is seeking, however, to enforce its right to regulate the manner in which abortions are performed in this commonwealth.”

At issue is whether the clinic may operate as an unlicensed doctor’s office that performs abortions, as it has for many years, or whether it is a full abortion clinic that requires state licensing.

Bevin called the ruling an “important victory for the rule of law in Kentucky.” His administration filed a lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court against the clinic March 2, claiming it was not properly licensed. The only licensed abortion clinic in Kentucky is in Louisville.

Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone in March denied the state’s request for a temporary injunction to close the clinic. The appellate court reversed Scorsone’s decision.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics