Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky announced Jan. 31 that it has received a provisional license from Kentucky to perform abortions, allowing it to become the second provider in the state, both of them in Louisville.
A prepared statement from the organization's leader praised the decision by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's administration.
"Kentucky has gone from one abortion provider to two, which is a significant win for reproductive health care in the state. . . . All people in Kentucky deserve to make their own pregnancy decisions and to have access to safe and legal abortion,” said PPINK CEO Chris Charbonneau.
Charbonneau added, "Abortion is health care, and this license underscores the importance of elected officials who will champion reproductive health care issues and uphold Roe v. Wade," the 1973 Supreme Court decision that first legalized abortion.
Then-Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican and a staunch opponent of abortion, issued an order to halt the clinic from providing abortions in 2016. This decision was challenged by Planned Parenthood and Bevin twice denied the organization a license to provide abortions.
Kentucky has had only one abortion provider since then, EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville. The Bevin administration attempted to close EMW by revoking its license, but a federal judge said that was unconstitutional, Deborah Yetter of the Louisville Courier Journal reports. In 2016, Bevin closed an abortion clinic in Lexington over licensing issues.
Beshear defeated Bevin in the November election. After he took office in December, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services rescinded the denial of the clinic's license and allowed it to reapply.
Under Bevin, lawmakers passed a number of anti-abortion bills, with some of them upheld and some of them blocked by the courts.
Most recently, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on whether a 2018 Kentucky law to ban the most common method of second-trimester abortion, called dilation and evacuation, or D&E, is constitutional.
The law banning the procedure was passed in 2018, but was struck down in the district court. It was subsequently appealed by the Bevin administration. If the decision is revoked again, Garrett Wymer for WKYT-TV reports that Kentucky's Attorney General Daniel Cameron says he will appeal to the Supreme Court.
There have been three anti-abortion bills filed in this lesigslative session and so far, only one has shown any movement.
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, which would require health care providers to do everything possible to save the life of a baby who is born alive, passed 32-0 out of the Senate on Jan. 27 and has since been posed in the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 67, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, would amend the state constitution to specify that it includes no protection for abortion rights. It has been posted in the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.
HB 142, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, would prohibit public money from going to any entity that performs, induces, refers for or counsels in favor of abortions. It has been posted in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
Abortion services at the Planned Parenthood clinic will become available in March 2020, its news release said.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.