Anti-Choice Kentucky Governor Launches Legal Assault on Planned Parenthood

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Anti-Choice Kentucky Governor Launches Legal Assault on Planned Parenthood

Jenn Stanley

Gov. Matt Bevin has accused Planned Parenthood of providing "illegal abortions," even though the health-care organization has released documents showing that they were operating well within the law.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is suing Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) over abortion care provided in recent months.

Bevin, the newly elected and outspoken anti-choice Republican governor, last month vowed to shut down Planned Parenthood’s Louisville Health Center, claiming the clinic had violated the law by beginning to provide abortion care, despite the clinic having approval from the former governor’s administration.

PPINK temporarily ceased abortion care at that clinic while the matter was resolved. But on Thursday, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed a lawsuit against PPINK, seeking more than $900,000 in fines.

“Although I am an unapologetically pro-life individual, I recognize and accept that there are some laws on the books that I do not necessarily agree with,” Bevin said in a statement. “However, we are a nation of laws, and my job is to ensure that they are followed regardless of my personal opinion.”

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He went on to accuse Planned Parenthood of “knowingly endangering their patients by provide illegal abortions.” PPINK officials maintain that they were operating within the law. They released documents this month that show Kentucky officials, under former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), authorized Planned Parenthood to provide abortion services at its Louisville clinic.

“We in no way, shape or form would contemplate offering abortion procedures in anything but a legal environment,” Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky CEO Betty Cockrum told Insider Louisville last month.

“PPINK followed longstanding protocol and received necessary authorization from the appropriate authority, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), to perform abortions at its facility while awaiting a site survey,” Judi Morrison, PPINK’s vice president of marketing and education, said in a statement. “All conditions for a survey to occur have been met. We ask that the executive branch continue the licensure process rather than continue to make politically motivated accusations.”

The Bevin administration alleges in the complaint that Planned Parenthood’s documentation of an emergency hospital and ambulance service was “a complete sham.”

“They appear to have been supplied intentionally in order to mislead the Cabinet into granting a license or to persuade the Cabinet to permit Planned Parenthood to begin performing abortions even before a license was granted,” the complaint reads.

Bevin ran on an anti-choice platform, and Republicans in the legislature have said that they’ve made it their mission to attack abortion rights as a way to “send a message to voters.”

Republicans have a majority in the state senate, and Democrats are trying to hold onto their narrow majority going into special elections in March. Kentucky has seen anti-choice laws passing through the legislature over the past two months, including a forced ultrasound bill that passed in the all-male Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection.

The Louisville Planned Parenthood branch provided 23 abortions in December and January, according to WFPL radio.