Battle over Kentucky's last abortion clinic begins in federal court
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Attorneys for Kentucky's last abortion clinic squared off with those for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin in federal court Wednesday.
EMW Women's Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky fought to keep the downtown Louisville clinic open as testimony began.
Dr. Earnest Marshall, the president of EMW, testified as an OB-GYN of 25 years. He's delivered thousands of babies, but he told the federal judge he is equally committed to women's reproductive rights. Dr. Marshall believes without the clinic, women who want an abortion will take matters into their own hands.
The landmark case fights a state regulation requiring a transfer agreement between the clinic, a hospital and ambulance service.
Attorneys for EMW and Planned Parenthood said the requirement is not necessary and is simply a ploy by Governor Bevin to shut down the clinic. But attorneys for the state argue it is necessary to have the agreement in place for the health and safety of the patient.
Both Dr. Marshall and a UofL OB-GYN testified the agreements are not necessary because the clinic has long-standing relationships with Louisville EMS and University Hospital.
Dr. Marshall testified an average of only 1 in 2,000 of their cases requires a hospital admission. He said due to their quality of care, many patients come from surrounding states to Louisville.
"We often get women who come to EMW from Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia because EMW does later term abortions than they can get in the cities surrounding our state," Carol Savkovich of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Health said.
"Women should be treated safely if something happens to them in emergency situations," Margie Montgomery of Kentucky Right to Life said. "And I want them to get treatment if there's an ability or way of saving the baby too that would be wonderful."
The argument that closing EMW would lead to Kentucky women terminating pregnancies on their own because no clinics would be available was slammed by Steve Pitt, the general counsel for Governor Bevin.
"There are 13 cities, 18 or 20 abortion clinics within 125 miles of the vast majority of most women in the Commonwealth," he argued.
The trial is expected to last through Friday.
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