FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- An action by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to end a lawsuit filed by the administration of former Gov. Matt Bevin could open the door to at least one more abortion clinic in Kentucky.
The lawsuit had claimed that Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky had illegally performed abortions in December 2015 and January 2016.
However, in a January 3, 2020 letter sent by Acting CHFS Secretary Eric Friedlander to Jessica Carpenter, a copy of which was obtained by Kentucky Today, the Cabinet said they determined the services were not performed in an unlicensed facility, which would have been a violation of state law.
The letter said: “The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has made the decision to rescind its August 16, 2019 decision to deny your July 3, 2019 Application to Operate and Abortion Facility. Per [administrative regulations], your prior complete application resulted in mandatory issuance from the Cabinet of a provision [sic] license to operate.
“Upon receipt of the provisional license, your facility should have begun providing health care services and have allowed the Office of the Inspector General to conduct an unannounced on-site inspection within three months of the provisional license date so a license could be issued.
“It has been determined your facility timely complied with the requirements to begin operations and to allow and pass inspection, therefore the Cabinet was mandated to issue a license to operate, effective on the date of the original application, pursuant to [administrative regulations].
“Therefore, the Cabinet has determined abortion services performed in December 2015 and January 2016 were not performed in an unlicensed facility, in violation of [state law].”
In a statement sent to Kentucky Today, Friedlander says, “By rescinding the improper decision by the previous administration, we are now following the established procedures required to reapply for a license. This administration will follow the state laws and statutes related to licensing of these facilities.”
Although EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville is currently the only abortion provider in Kentucky, the Cabinet has confirmed Planned Parenthood in Louisville has applied for a license. The Cabinet adds no timeline estimate is available because there can be many variables to the process.
It was not known if a license is being sought for a clinic in Lexington. A social media post that had received wide attention said abortion clinics opened in Louisville and Lexington this month. The post was later change to say “will be trying to open up.”
A bill pending before the 2020 General Assembly would likely keep the state from funding Planned Parenthood.
Legislation (HB 142) sponsored by Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, has been introduced that would ban public agency funds from being paid to any entity, organization or individual that performs, indices, refers for, or counsels in favor of abortions. There are limited exceptions, in order to comply with federal law.
The measure has been referred to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, but no hearing date has been scheduled yet.