A women’s health clinic in eastern Kentucky will remain closed after the state’s supreme court on Thursday denied an appeal that would have allowed it to reopen.
The Kentucky Supreme Court opinion said the EMW Women’s Clinic in Lexington can’t reopen because it lacks the required state licensing to operate as a full-time abortion clinic, according to reports by the Associated Press and the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Kentucky law requires full-time abortion clinics to be licensed by the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services. However, physicians’ offices that perform a variety of services, including abortions, do not have to be licensed separately.
Attorneys for the State of Kentucky have argued that EMW is a stand-alone abortion clinic because it performed more than 400 abortions in 2015, as Rewire has reported.
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The licensing debate surrounding EMW began in February after the Cabinet received a complaint about the clinic. The Cabinet sent inspectors to the facility, who decided EMW was unlicensed and lacked ideal sanitary conditions. The Cabinet, under the leadership of virulently anti-choice Gov. Matt Bevin (R), then filed a suit for a temporary injunction to stop the clinic from performing abortions until it was licensed.
Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Ernesto Scorsone in March ruled in the clinic’s favor by denying the injunction. The EMW attorneys argued that it was not a full-time abortion clinic.
The Cabinet appealed to the Court of Appeals, which in June ruled in the state’s favor. The clinic has remained closed since the appeals court ruling.
In the Kentucky Supreme Court decision, the court said EMW had “failed to demonstrate why it should be exempt from licensure as an abortion facility,” according to the Herald-Leader.
EMW in Lexington is the only abortion provider east of Louisville, where an affiliate, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, operates the only full-time abortion clinic in Kentucky. The Louisville facility made headlines last year after falling victim to vandalism twice in a 30-day period.