Lexington's Abortion Mill Calls It Quits

“Although we and our attorney believed we had fulfilled all the requirements to obtain the license, the Inspector General of Kentucky disagreed and denied us the license. …Unfortunately, our landlord has also declined to renew our lease…,” state the officials at EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington, on their Facebook post.

Kentucky has finally aborted one of its two remaining abortion mills.

It all started in November, 2015, when pro-life Republican Matt Bevin was elected as Governor of Kentucky, succeeding the strong pro-abortion Democrat Governor Steve Beshear.

In spring of 2016, Bevin’s  administration  filed  a suit against EMW Women’s Clinic, seeking to close its abortion mill on the grounds that it was illegally operating an abortion clinic while claiming it was a doctor’s office, and thus not having a license to operate an abortion facility.  Under Kentucky law, all freestanding surgical centers that are not doctors’ offices must obtain a license.

As reported by the Courier Journal, Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, stated that EMW Women’s Clinic was operating without a license or the required “transfer agreement” with an ambulance service to take patients to a hospital in the even of an emergency.  She also noted that a recent inspection found the clinic to be “unsanitary” and that it had not been inspected since 2006.  EMW also failed to meet the crucial state requirement that it have an emergency agreement with a local hospital to which patients from a botched abortion could be transferred to seek medical services to save their life.

After the Office of Inspector General visited this clinic on February 17, 2016, after receiving an anonymous complaint, the inspectors found numerous health and safety violations at the abortion clinic, including a “sufficient quantity” of expired medications, medical equipment covered in dust, dirt and grime, and improper sanitation.

In March, 2016, the Fayette circuit judge, Ernesto Scorsone, denied the state’s request to close the facility.  (Judge Scorsone, while a Democrat member of the General Assembly, was a strong advocate of legalized abortion, opposing any, and all, pro-life legislation.)  However, Bevin’s administration appealed to the Court of Appeals, and the all-female three-judge panel  unanimously reversed the decision of the circuit judge, concluding:

“…it seems to us that the evidence adduced at the hearing actually belies the circuit court’s conclusion, ,,,

“Additionally, the circuit court failed to recognize the many important elements the regulations impose on abortion facilities.  The regulations require far more than the presence of transfer and transport agreements.  They mandate cleanliness standards, education, and other protocols designed to protect the safety and wellbeing of women.  See 902 KAR 20:360.  The licensure requirement is designed to make sure that abortions occur in a safe and hygienic environment after proper education and counseling.  Given the expired medications, defective equipment, torn examination table, and dust accumulation found at EMW Lexington, we believe the evidence compelled a conclusion that allowing the facility to operate without the Cabinet’s oversight presents a substantial risk of harm to EMW Lexington’s patients. …there was no evidence presented that it had taken action to remove and replace the expired medications, procure a new examination table, repair the floor in the procedure room, or clean the premises.

In August, 2016, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals, stating:

“EMW has failed to demonstrate why it should be exempt from the licensure as an abortion facility. …EMW exists solely to perform abortions and offers little to no proof it does anything else other than performing that service in potentially substandard conditions, proving precisely why the Commonwealth requires these facilities to be licensed in the first place.  So we do not think the Court of Appeals abused its discretion in finding the Cabinet has established a substantial question.”

In response to the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision, Bevin released the following statement:  

“We are pleased that the Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision recognizing that an unlicensed abortion clinic is prohibited from performing abortions.  The laws of Kentucky matter and must be followed even when individuals, corporations, or lower court judges think otherwise.”


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