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Kentucky Cabinet Denies Planned Parenthood Abortion License

Jacob Ryan

Gov. Matt Bevin's administration on Friday denied a license for an abortion clinic at Planned Parenthood's downtown Louisville location.

The Courier Journal reports a letter from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said Planned Parenthood illegally performed 23 abortions between Dec. 3, 2015, and Jan. 28, 2016, while the clinic was trying to obtain a state license.

Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry previously found that Planned Parenthood had been following directions of state officials when it began operations in December 2015.

Clinic CEO Chris Charbonneau said in a Friday news release on the decision, "While Governor Bevin is once again on the wrong side of history, we will continue to fight this decision and the slew of unpopular decisions that take away reproductive health care and abortion access in the Commonwealth. This decision shows the true motive, which is to purposefully place undue burdens on pregnant Kentuckians."

Officials in the administration of former Gov. Steve Beshear in 2015 had told Planned Parenthood its licensing application was complete and fulfilled requirements. But the license had not yet been issued when Bevin became governor that December.

His administration ordered the clinic to stop providing abortions and claimed the license application was deficient. It also sought to revoke the license of Kentucky's only other abortion provider, EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville.

The Bevin administration said the clinics lacked adequate agreements with a local hospital and ambulance service in the event of an emergency.

EMW and Planned Parenthood challenged the state law requiring such agreements in federal court. Last year U.S. District Court Judge Greg Stivers struck down the law as unconstitutional. The state has appealed.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Planned Parenthood and EMW are asking that the state be ordered to pay the nearly $1.5 million they have spent to challenge the transfer law.

While Stivers did not hold the Bevin administration in contempt of court, he noted that some of the state's actions in the case "could be called contempts," finding that the state had violated some of his previous orders involving the Planned Parenthood license.

Stivers also ordered the administration to expedite the review of Planned Parenthood's license.

In its Friday statement, Planned Parenthood's Charbonneau said the cabinet's decision was an attempt to bypass Stivers' authority.

The cabinet "continues to refuse to comply with the court's orders," she said. "Its decision today is a blatant attempt to take the ongoing proceedings outside of the courts."

For now, EMW Women's Surgical Center remains the only abortion clinic in Kentucky. It provides about 3,300 abortions a year.

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