Judge strikes down Kentucky law restricting last abortion clinic in state

Judge strikes down Kentucky law restricting last abortion clinic in state
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A federal judge struck down a Kentucky law on Friday that would have threatened the last abortion clinic in the state.

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers awarded a major victory for the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, The Associated Press reported on Friday. The center is the state's last abortion clinic, the outlet noted.

Stivers rejected a law from more than 20 years ago which required abortion clinics in Kentucky to have written “transfer agreements” with a hospital and ambulance services available in case of a medical emergency.

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The judge found the two-decades old rule to be a violation of women's constitutional right to an abortion, the AP reported.

The agreements “do not advance a legitimate interest” in promoting women’s health, Stivers ruled. 

"On the other hand, the regulations effectively eliminate women's rights to abortions in the state,” Stivers wrote in his opinion. “Therefore, the challenged regulations are unconstitutional."

The clinic’s founders argued in court that a patient has never died of an abortion, maintaining that complications usually arise after the patient has left a facility.

Stivers noted that only about 1 in 2,000 abortion patients are admitted into the hospital.

"Therefore, the existence or absence of transfer or transport agreements between abortion clinics and hospitals or ambulance services has no impact on the vast majority of the rare post-abortion complications," Stivers wrote.

The EMW Women’s Surgical Center was reportedly at risk of closing when Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s (R) administration cited the regulation during its battle with the abortion clinic over licensing, the AP noted.

Bevin’s office argued that the clinic did not have the proper transfer agreements and tried to shut it down, triggering a lawsuit from the facility more than a year ago.

The suit was joined by the Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union.

Bevin’s office told the AP that it would appeal the decision, citing the governor's strong views against abortion.

"We are disappointed that the court would strike down a statute that protects the health and well-being of Kentucky women," Bevin's spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn told the outlet.

AP noted that a new Kentucky law is on hold temporarily as it awaits trial later this year.

The measure banned “dilation and evacuation” procedures in an effort to ban abortions 11 weeks after fertilization.

A federal judge struck down a law last year that would require doctors to perform ultrasounds and show patients images of the fetus before performing an abortion.