Sixth Circuit upholds Ky.'s transfer-agreement law for abortion clinics

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CINCINNATI (KT) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled to uphold Kentucky’s transfer-agreement law and its implementing regulation that requires abortion clinics have a transfer agreement with a hospital as well as an agreement with a local ambulance provider.


The law was passed in 1998 by the General Assembly.


The transfer agreement ensures that abortion clinics can transfer patients to local hospitals in the safest and fastest way possible in case of a medical emergency or complication.


Earlier this year, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened on behalf of the commonwealth in the legal challenge, brought by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, to ensure that the statute would be fully defended. 


“The Sixth Circuit’s ruling keeps in place an important Kentucky law for protecting the health and safety of patients by finding that Planned Parenthood and EMW failed to prove that they could not comply with the statute and regulation,” Cameron said.  “Our office was proud to intervene in this case and ensure that the law was fully defended.”


The Sixth Circuit also considered the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in June Medical Services v. Russo and determined that Chief Justice Roberts’s concurring opinion is the law of the land.  This supports the position taken by Cameron in the transfer-agreement case in an August 2020 filing.


In so ruling, the Sixth Circuit adopted a requirement that an abortion clinic challenging a law must show that it made a good-faith effort to comply before it can claim that the same law is unconstitutional.

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