Seven states have just one abortion clinic and Kentucky is at risk of becoming the first state without a single clinic that performs abortions.
A trial began in federal court this morning to determine whether or not the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville will be forced to close its doors, which would effectively ban the procedure in the state.
The trial revolves around a licensing battle between Kentucky's anti-choice governor Matt Bevin and the EMW Women's Surgical Center. In March, Bevin's administration claimed the clinic lacked proper transfer agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service in the event of a medical emergency. The governor unsuccessfully attempted to shut down EMW, but the clinic fought back with a federal lawsuit that prevented the state from revoking its license.
U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers blocked Bevin's request to shut down the clinic until the dispute could be brought to trial. Stivers is overseeing the trial.
State regulators claim the transfer agreements protect women's health, but the clinic argues that there's no medical justification for the agreements and they're a tactic to create an unconstitutional barrier for women seeking safe, legal abortions.
"The state is trying to shut down the only abortion clinic in Kentucky by enforcing regulations that have nothing to do with women's health," clinic attorney Donald L. Cox stated during this morning's hearing. "There will be no abortions in Kentucky if they win." He added that there's no proof the transfer agreements in question improve women's outcomes.
Planned Parenthood, which no longer performs abortions in Kentucky, has also joined the case. In a complaint filed Friday, the organization said the state will use its rules "to prevent any abortion facility from operating in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. No medical facility could ever keep up with the ever-shifting and undisclosed terms of the requirements."
The trial, which began today, is expected to last at least three days.