Kentucky clinic given OK to apply for abortion license

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials are inviting a Planned Parenthood clinic to apply for a license to perform abortions after it was denied by former Gov. Matt Bevin's administration.

If a license is approved for the Louisville clinic, it would become only the second abortion provider in the state.

Bevin, a staunchly anti-abortion Republican, had ordered abortions halted at the downtown Louisville facility after learning early in his term as governor in 2016 that it was performing the procedure. The two sides had battled in court since then. Bevin lost his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear in November, and Beshear, who supports abortion rights, took office on Dec. 10.

A letter sent from the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services on Jan. 3 to the Planned Parenthood clinic said the state was rescinding its decision to deny an application to provide abortions.

“Gov. Beshear’s administration recognized that our license had been wrongfully denied and that the previous administration didn’t follow the proper process," Hannah Brass Greer, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

The cabinet's letter said Planned Parenthood had complied with requirements to begin operation back in late 2015, meaning the abortions performed during a two-month period while Bevin was in office were not in violation of state law. The letter said that if a new license is approved, the clinic would be subject to an unannounced inspection by state officials within three months.

Bevin and the Republican-controlled General Assembly had moved in recent years to enact restrictions on abortions, including passing a law requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients prior to abortions. A federal appeals court upheld that law in June.

The cabinet under Bevin in 2016 filed a lawsuit arguing that the Louisville Planned Parenthood clinic did not have valid hospital and ambulatory agreements, which would be used if there was a medical emergency. Planned Parenthood said Tuesday that it was filing papers to have the lawsuit dismissed.

After Planned Parenthood stopped providing abortions in 2016, the EMW clinic in Louisville became the state's only provider.

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