U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers ruled to strike down a Kentucky law that could have shut down the state’s last abortion clinic.
The law required Kentucky’s abortion clinics to have a written agreement with a hospital and an ambulance service, in case they were needed for medical emergencies.
Stivers said on Friday that the 20-year-old law violated constitutionally protected due process, The Associated Press reported.
According to the judge, these agreements “do not advance a legitimate interest” in pursuit of promoting the health of women seeking to terminate their pregnancies.
“The Court has carefully reviewed the evidence presented in this case and concludes that the record is devoid of any credible proof that the challenged regulations have any tangible benefit to women’s health,” Stivers said in his 60-page ruling.
“On the other hand, the regulations effectively eliminate women’s rights to abortions in the state. Therefore, the challenged regulations are unconstitutional.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, who supported the legal battle against the law, supported the judge’s decision.
“The court’s decision recognized the Kentucky law for what it is: an attack on women wrapped up in a bogus justification and pushed by politicians who’ve been transparent in their pursuit to ban abortion in the state of Kentucky,” ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri said, according to the AP.
In his ruling, Stivers referred to the testimony of one of the founders of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the state’s last abortion clinic, who told the court that they had never experienced a patient death because of an abortion and that only about 1-in-2,000 women undergoing an abortion have to be admitted to a hospital.
Nationwide, it is estimated that there are about 3,000 induced abortions each day.
Despite the probable daily need for women in America to be transported to a hospital due to abortion complications, Stivers said in his ruling that out-of-state clinics did not “cure the infirmities” of the residents, as Kentucky law required.
“Defendants’ contention that it can trample upon the rights of Kentucky women because those rights could be exercised in other states is without merit,” the judge wrote.
The abortion clinic founder also testified that the complications that do arise are more likely to do so after the women have left the abortion facility, and the judge cited that in his ruling.
“Therefore, the existence or absence of transfer or transport agreements between abortion clinics and hospitals or ambulance services has no impact on the vast majority of the rare post-abortion complications,” Stivers wrote.
Gov. Matt Bevin, who is a staunch opponent of abortion, opposed the law being struck down and promised that it will be appealed.
Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokeswoman for the governor, said that Bevin’s administration is confident they will win an appeal or reversal of the decision, according to the AP.
“We are disappointed that the court would strike down a statute that protects the health and well-being of Kentucky women,” Kuhn said.
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