Tuesday marked six days since Kentucky’s two licensed abortion clinics—EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood’s Louisville Health Center—stopped providing abortions.
“The fact that abortion clinics in Kentucky have remained closed for six days is a blessing for the unborn in Kentucky and good news to every Kentuckian who cares for life,” said Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “We will continue to pray for the day when abortion clinics will be permanently shuttered in the commonwealth.”
In a lawsuit filed in federal district court last week, the clinics said inability to comply with the provisions of a newly passed pro-life law has forced them to “turn away all patients seeking abortions.”
“We’re just praising God and we’re thankful—because of every minute, every hour, every day that they remain closed, that means another minute, another hour, another day that women have the opportunity to reconsider,” said Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life.
At the center of abortion access woes in Kentucky is House Bill 3, a multi-faceted piece of legislation that passed in the General Assembly last week after overriding Governor Andy Beshear’s veto. The law introduced new regulations for medical abortion pills and the disposal of fetal remains, updated the judicial bypass procedure and changed abortion reporting requirements.
Abortion advocates have said the passage of House Bill 3 imposes an unconstitutional, undue burden on women seeking abortions. In a response filed in Western District Court on Tuesday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron disagreed.
“Planned Parenthood’s alleged concerns that prompted this lawsuit are based on a flawed interpretation of the requirements of the law,” said Cameron, who is listed as a defendant in his official capacity to defend Kentucky law.
Cameron argued the burden for developing forms required by HB 3 is imposed on the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, not abortion providers—allowing them to continue operating until the forms are provided.
“In Planned Parenthood’s view, it must abide by forms and regulations that have not even been created,” Cameron said. “The better interpretation, and the one that accounts for HB 3 as a whole, is that Planned Parenthood will not be required to use and/or submit such forms until the Cabinet has created and distributed.”
Wuchner, who worked with primary sponsor Rep. Nancy Tate to develop HB 3, said the intent of the 60-day window “was to allow the Cabinet and allow those who are abortion providers in the state that time to get all their processes up to date…with the law” even though the bill’s emergency clause caused it to go into effect immediately after passage.
“It’s been good news for the unborn that abortions haven’t taken place for nearly a week,” said Richard Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center. “However, contrary to abortion interests, HB 3 doesn’t make abortion illegal. The abortion industry simply doesn’t want to comply with the laws. The voluntary shut-down of their clinics is a ruse that we believe any fair-minded judge will see through.”
“By refusing to comply with HB 3’s protections and immediately filing suit, abortion advocates have once again revealed they do not really care about women and only desire to further profit off the slaughter of babies in the womb,” added David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation.
Pro-life advocates voiced hope that HB 3 would remain in effect, and Cameron argued that the federal court should assess each provision of the law separately.
“Planned Parenthood cannot be allowed to cherry-pick certain provisions or assert a cumulative impact to have all of HB 3 enjoined when it has not demonstrated that the balance of factors weighs in favor of injunctive relief for all of the provisions in HB 3,” Cameron said.
While both abortion clinics remain closed in the absence of injunctive relief, a federal judge now has an opportunity to weigh in on the case. Until then, Kentucky remains on the other side of an historic threshold as the only state without an active abortion provider.