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Kentucky Could Become First State Without A Single Abortion Clinic

A legal battle will determine the Louisville clinic's fate

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May 02, 2017 at 11:35 AM ET

A heated legal battle over the last remaining abortion clinic in Kentucky has the potential to make the state the first in the U.S. without a single clinic where women go to end a pregnancy. In September, a federal judge will determine whether the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville can stay open or not.

The efforts to shutter the clinic have been spearheaded by Gov. Matt Bevin, who came to office in 2015 with a radically anti-abortion agenda. In addition to his crusade to close down EMW, he’s also enacted several other anti-abortion measures.

Since his election, Bevin has passed legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks (something roughly a dozen other states have done), prevented a Planned Parenthood clinic from performing abortions with a lawsuit, and signed a now-contested bill that would require abortion providers conduct an ultrasound on the patient, displaying and describing the images on-screen.

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According to the New York Times, the tensions unfolding within the state concerning EMW are put on display every day the clinic is open, as volunteer escorts walk patients through throngs of protestors carrying “grisly signs depicting bloody fetuses” and screaming into megaphones.

Earlier in the year, a federal judge blocked the state’s efforts to shut down the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which Bevin and others claim lacks transfer agreements with hospitals and ambulatory services should a patient need to be transported in an emergency situation. This is because the nearby hospital will not sign EMW’s agreements on religious grounds.

As it stands, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi, Wyoming, and West Virginia are the only other states to share the distinction of having a single operational abortion clinic.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the most recent data available shows that the state’s teen pregnancy rate is well above the national average, and that it was among the states with the lowest proportions of teenage pregnancies ending in abortion.