Its survival on the line, Kentucky's last abortion clinic is bracing for a pivotal legal showdown with health regulators and the state's anti-abortion governor.
The licensing fight is set to play out in a federal courtroom in Louisville, Kentucky, starting Wednesday. It revolves around a state law requiring that EMW Women's Surgical Center have agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service in the event of medical emergencies involving patients.
State regulators defend those conditions as "important safeguards" to protect women's health. The clinic in downtown Louisville counters that the requirements lack any "medical justification" and amount to an unconstitutional barrier to abortion. But the stakes go beyond a debate about state law. The outcome could determine whether Kentucky becomes the first state in the nation without an abortion clinic.