Judge Halts Shutdown of Kentucky’s Only Abortion Clinic

(CN) – Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic won a temporary restraining order from a federal judge in its fight to stay open, after state officials suddenly claimed it was out of compliance with regulations.

Two days earlier, the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville had sued the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to challenge a looming shutdown date of April 3.

“If EMW is forced to close its doors, there will be no licensed abortion facility in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and Kentucky women will be left without access to a critical and constitutionally protected medical procedure,” the complaint states.

The two sides were in dispute over whether the clinic was in compliance with state regulations requiring agreements with local hospitals and ambulance companies.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers granted a 14-day temporary restraining order in Louisville federal court, forbidding the state from shutting down the clinic.

He found that the clinic and Dr. Ernest Marshall have shown “a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourteenth Amendment substantive and procedural due process claims.”

In addition, Stivers wrote that the clinic had shown that its patients’ rights would be “immediately and irreparably harmed” without the court order.

“The balance of hardships also favors plaintiffs because a temporary restraining order would preserve the status quo and give the court the ability to make a meaningful ruling on the merits of the case,” the judge said in a four-page order.

Doug Hogan, the cabinet’s communications director, called the TRO “unnecessary,” stating that the clinic’s license was not in immediate peril.

“The Cabinet is surprised and disappointed the Court entered a temporary restraining order without input from the Cabinet and without first ascertaining the status of communications between both parties,” he said. “The Cabinet had informed counsel for EMW no final decision would be made regarding the abortion facility’s license until the administrative due process required by Kentucky statutory law was complete.”

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, the cabinet’s secretary, is named as the defendant in the clinic’s lawsuit.

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