- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A Lexington abortion clinic will reopen next week after a local judge denied the state’s request for a cease-and-desist order.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports (https://bit.ly/1ptMJQZ) Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone ruled Friday that in addition to evidence the clinic was operating legally, closing it would go against the public interest.

“EMW is the only physician’s office that routinely provides abortion services in the Eastern half of the state, and both parties agree that a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy is constitutionally protected,” Scorsone wrote. “Closing EMW would have a severe, adverse impact on the women in the Eastern part of the state.”

The administration of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin sued the clinic earlier this month, arguing it is an abortion facility that must be licensed under Kentucky law.

Attorneys for the EMW clinic say it is a physician’s office that performs abortions and not subject to the licensure requirement. Under Kentucky law, physicians’ offices that perform a variety of services do not have to be separately licensed to perform abortions.

Clinic owner Ernest Marshall is an obstetrician-gynecologist in good standing with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure who also owns the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville - the only fully licensed abortion provider in Kentucky.

But Marshall testified in court on Wednesday that the Lexington facility has always operated as a doctor’s office.

Marshall said the clinic used to do more regular gynecological health care, but he said that since his partner died a few years ago, the clinic’s primary work is abortions.

Despite that fact, Scorsone found that the first-trimester abortions performed there “do not require sedation or the services of an anesthesiologist, factors that indicate EMW is a private physician’s office exempt from the licensing requirements for ambulatory surgical centers.”

The clinic stopped performing abortions March 9, pending the judge’s ruling.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the administration will appeal the ruling as soon as possible.

The suit against the Lexington clinic follows a similar action against a Planned Parenthood facility in Louisville that halted abortions in January when Bevin’s administration sued.

Bevin, a staunch abortion opponent, said he was outraged to learn that the Louisville facility had recently started performing abortions.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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