Abortion continues to be a politically and socially flammable topic, especially as increasingly pro-life policies have swept through many parts of the United States.
And the debate is only poised to continue, as Kentucky could become the first state in the country to have no registered abortion clinics. Right now, EMW Women’s Surgical Centre in Louisville is the last remaining clinic — and its future is quite uncertain.
The clinic has drawn the ire of the state government, which claims that there are “deficiencies” with its licensing. If, indeed, the clinic is shuttered, Kentucky will become the first state without abortion services, CNN noted.
In the end, a validation of the state’s decision would have sweeping ramifications, as appeals could take the issue right up to the Supreme Court, where the nation’s top justices could decide whether the licensing crackdown is constitutional.
There’s already been a downtrend of abortion clinics in America, with the number dwindling from 452 in 1996 to 272 in 2014.
And, according to VICE, there are seven states, including Kentucky, that now only have one abortion provider. The other six are: West Virginia, Missouri, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Mississippi.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Kentucky have advanced other pro-life measures of late, including a 20-week abortion ban and a measure taking aim at Planned Parenthood’s access to public funds. Additionally, another now-defunct measure was passed in the legislature that requires doctors to show ultrasounds to a woman before performing abortions, The Courier-Journal reported.
A federal trial over whether EMW Women’s Surgical Centre can remain open concluded in September and, as VICE noted, a verdict is expected at any time. The Associated Press explains more about the battle:
The case revolves around a licensing fight between the state and EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville. The clinic is challenging a Kentucky law requiring abortion facilities to have transfer agreements with a hospital and transportation agreements with an ambulance service.
You can find out more about the states with only one abortion provider here.