FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A Kentucky appeals court has temporarily ordered a Lexington clinic to stop performing abortions, leaving one abortion clinic operating in the state.
Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is trying to shut down EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington because he says they are performing abortions without a license from the state. Ernest Marshall, the clinic’s owner, says he is exempt from the licensure requirement because the clinic is a private physician’s office.
In March, a state judge denied Bevin’s request. But Wednesday, a three-judge panel on the state Court of Appeals reversed that decision and temporarily ordered the clinic to stop performing abortions until it either gets a license from the state or the lawsuit is resolved, whichever comes first. The judges questioned whether the clinic would qualify as a private office because it has performed only abortions for the past year.
“This case is not about a woman’s right to an abortion,” Judge Allison Jones wrote for the court. “The Cabinet is not seeking to prevent women from obtaining abortions. It is seeking, however, to enforce its rights to regulate the manner in which abortions are performed in this Commonwealth.”
The ruling is for a temporary injunction and is not a final decision in the case. Scott White, the clinic’s attorney, said he was disappointed with the ruling and is considering an appeal. He said the effect of the ruling is it leaves only one place in the state for women to seek first trimester abortions: Louisville.
“We think it disingenuous for the Court to agree with the Administration and say this case is not about a woman’s right to an abortion,” White said. “It most certainly is, and it was made so by Governor Bevin not Dr. Marshall or his physician’s clinic.”
In a news release, Bevin called the ruling “an important victory for the rule of law in Kentucky.”
“This is the right and necessary ruling to ensure that the health and safety of women are protected,” he said.
This is the second abortion clinic Bevin has sought to close. He filed a similar lawsuit against Planned Parenthood in Louisville earlier this year, which has since stopped performing abortions. Last week Planned Parenthood’s attorney asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge has yet to rule.