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Kentucky could be the first state without an abortion facility as its last center braces for shutdown

Kentucky is on the cusp of being the first state without an abortion facility. Its last-remaining location, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, is embroiled in a high stakes legal battle against Gov. Matt Bevin and state lawmakers. If the court decides in favor of the state to enforce basic health and safety regulations for abortion facilities, the location may be forced to close. The hearing began Wednesday.

“Kentucky literally stands on the verge of making redemptive history,” Rusty Thomas, the director of Operation Save America, told Western Journalism. “It could be the first surgically abortion-free state in the United States of America.”

Under state law, abortion facilities are required to have transfer agreements with a hospital in the event of botched abortions or medical emergencies. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, however, sued Bevin after it received a notice from officials that its abortion license violated state standards. A federal judge granted the facility a temporary restraining order to stay open until a judge could decide on the matter.

Steve Pitt, attorney for the state, told the court on Wednesday that the state has a vested interest in protecting women’s health, and is seeking to enforce a 20-year-old law.

“The governor and the secretary of the cabinet are attempting to enforce the law that requires — for the safety of women — for abortion clinics to have transfer agreements with hospitals, every state in this area has those statutes,” Pitt said.

Bevin affirmed the state’s position during a radio interview, the Associated Press reports:

“If the law allows for certain things to exist, we need to follow that law or change it,” Bevin said. “That includes having transfer agreements in place. You don’t get to change the rules just because they don’t fit your desire at that time, which is what some of these abortion providers are trying to do.”

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