Kentucky’s abortion clinics are taking appointments again. What to know if you need procedure

·3 min read

Kentucky’s two abortion providers will resume offering abortions and scheduling patients for future appointments beginning Friday, clinic representatives said.

EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood, both in Louisville, announced Thursday afternoon that abortion care would continue at least for the next few days. The announcement came hours after a Jefferson County judge granted a restraining order that blocks a statewide trigger law banning nearly all abortions from taking effect, permitting both clinics to offer abortion care, at least for now.

“Planned Parenthood will once again be providing abortion care in Kentucky,” Tamarra Wieder, state director for Planned Parenthood Alliances, said in a Thursday afternoon news conference. “We’re here to send a clear message: the ability to control your own body and make your own medical decisions is a fundamental right. Please call us to make an appointment.”

Amber Duke, interim executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which is representing EMW in its lawsuit, said abortions will resume at EMW on Friday. Planned Parenthood will not provide abortions on Friday, Wieder said, but clinic staff are now scheduling patients for future appointments. She didn’t say when the clinic would resume providing abortions.

Both clinics urged patients wanting an abortion to contact either facility to make an appointment, even those who were previously directed to an out-of-state clinic when Kentucky’s trigger law took effect.

“Likely folks who made plans to go out of state may be able to receive care in Kentucky, but they will have to contact providers in order to get that information,” Duke said.

Wieder said she knows the legal back and forth can be complicated for patients: “The past several days have been incredibly confusing, (but) there are dedicated health professionals that will help you get an appointment (and) help guide you through the process of getting the care you need.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, a 2019 trigger law took immediate effect in the commonwealth, outlawing nearly all abortions with few medical exceptions. Planned Parenthood and EMW on Monday sued the state and asked for a restraining order to prevent Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office from enforcing the statewide prohibition.

The clinics argue that the full-stop ban violates one’s right to privacy and, by extension, bodily autonomy, under the Kentucky Constitution. In the first six days the law was in effect, EMW turned away close to 200 patients, 15 of whom were in the clinic’s waiting room when Roe was overturned, ACLU attorney Heather Gatnarek said in a Wednesday hearing.

The order granted by Judge Mitch Perry extends until at least next Wednesday, at which point both clinics are scheduled for a preliminary injunction hearing. If that, too, is granted by Perry, the trigger law will be blocked from enforcement for even longer.

In the meantime, groups like the Kentucky Health Justice Network, which provides financial aid to pregnant people needing abortions, will refer people to local clinics, KHJN Executive Director Erin Smith said Thursday.

“With the temporary lift, we will be utilizing Kentucky abortion clinics once again,” Smith said.