A federal trial that could lead to the closing of Kentucky’s only abortion clinic is underway at Louisville’s federal courthouse.
In opening statements, attorneys for the EMW Women’s Surgical Center said the state was imposing unattainable, arbitrary regulations about transfer agreements with an ambulance company at a hospital.
Clinic officials argued those impossible demands had no medical basis and would shut the clinic down.
“The state is trying to shut down the only abortion clinic in Kentucky by enforcing regulations that have nothing to do with women’s health,” said Don Cox, the attorney for EMW Women’s Surgical Center.
State officials said the case was not about eliminating abortions in Kentucky, but about regulating clinics to keep them safe.
“The governor and the secretary of the cabinet are attempting to enforce the law that requires — for the safety of women — for abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals, every state in this area has those statutes,” said Steve Pitt, the attorney for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
On Tuesday evening, a group of about 75 people gathered outside the courthouse to rally for abortion access.
The case is expected to go through Friday.
The administration of Gov. Matt Bevin and EMW reached an agreement that allowed the clinic to remain open until the conclusion of the federal lawsuit.
Over the past year, the Bevin administration has forced two other clinics to stop providing abortions over licensure issues: the part-time EMW clinic that had long operated in Lexington and the Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisville that had started offering that service just a month earlier.
This summer, the clinic attracted protesters from Operation Save America.