Court ruling on abortion clinic focused on health

Sign across the street from Lexington’s EMW Women’s Clinic in March.
Sign across the street from Lexington’s EMW Women’s Clinic in March. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Having served on the Kentucky Supreme Court and the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, I find your editorial reveals a misunderstanding of the limitations and functions of appellate courts.

The editorial characterizing as “preposterous” a unanimous Court of Appeals decision reversing Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone’s March decision to allow an unlicensed abortion facility in Lexington to continue operating ignores the rule of law in favor of result-oriented political correctness.

The unanimous three-judge panel, comprised of three highly regarded appellate judges, who also happen to be women, found Scorsone to have been “clearly erroneous” in his ruling.

The judges had little difficulty in determining that the evidence showed that EMW Lexington was operating an unsanitary clinic that, despite its owner’s protestations that it was merely a “private physician’s office,” was solely an abortion clinic and had been since at least 2011.

As such, the law of Kentucky requires it be licensed as an abortion clinic, which it is not.

The Herald-Leader clearly would prefer to see women submit to abortions at a dirty and unlicensed facility at potential grave risk to their safety, and even lives, than to see the facility follow the law. That position, not the opinion of the three judges who based their decision on the evidence and the law rather than politics, is what is preposterous.

Barbers, veterinarians and scores of other professionals in Kentucky must be licensed to operate their facilities in a clean and safe condition. That is the law. How novel that three judges would actually do their sworn duty and uphold the law that our elected representatives passed for the protection of our citizens.

One can only imagine the Herald-Leader’s outrage if, for example, a gallbladder removal surgery or a tonsillectomy were performed at an unsanitary and unlicensed clinic. Or, if pet dogs and cats were operated on by unlicensed vets at a dirty facility. The hypocrisy of the Herald-Leader is clear — and sad. Its disregard for the rule of law and disrespect for three of the commonwealth’s best appeals judges is hard to forgive.

We are a nation and state of laws. Those laws are enacted for a reason and should be followed if we are to continue as a democracy. We should all give thanks for three judges who were willing to risk the wrath of the likes of the Herald-Leader editorial staff and do what they were elected and sworn to do: follow the law.

J. William Graves of Paducah is a retired justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.

At issue: June 17 Herald-Leader editorial, “Bad ruling on reproductive rights” in Ky”