Health

Planned Parenthood’s Louisville health center, which provided abortions until recently, will remain open for other health care needs and to help patients navigate abortions in other states. 

Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center halted abortion care in Kentucky earlier this month, after the state court of appeals granted an emergency request from Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron to enforce two near-total abortion bans

The state’s trigger law, which outlaws abortions in all but life-threatening cases, and six-week ban both went into effect immediately following the United States Supreme Court decision in late June to overturn Roe v. Wade

The two Kentucky providers challenged the bans in state court, and a week after they went into effect, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry issued a temporary block, which allowed abortions to resume. On July 22, the judge granted a temporary injunction further blocking the laws for the duration of the case. 

The court of appeals reversed that, and the state Supreme Court upheld the decision last week. Oral arguments are set for Nov. 15, when the state’s high court will consider whether to allow continued enforcement of the laws during the state case. 

Abortions might be illegal right now in the commonwealth, but the state’s two providers – both in Louisville – are doing what they can to help with access to care.

Nicole Erwin, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said historically, the majority of services at Louisville’s clinic has been for care other than abortions – including wellness visits, birth control, emergency contraception and gender affirming hormone care. Those services continue. 

Erwin said this care is critical. Around 70% of patients have no other source of health care. 

“Planned Parenthood has been a leading reproductive health care provider in Kentucky since 1932; we aren’t going anywhere,” she said. “We knew what was coming, so months ago, we started a thorough evaluation of our patient needs, operation costs and what the future of care in each of our health centers would look like.”

Erwin said that included looking at how to efficiently serve patients at both the Louisville and Lexington clinics through a combination of telemedicine and in-person care while investing in new needs post-Roe, like strengthening patient navigators. Even prior to the bans, the Lexington clinic did not provide abortions. 

Planned Parenthood can also see patients to determine if they are pregnant and what care they may need, as well as connecting people with abortion funds and access to abortions in other states. 

Prior to the bans, Planned Parenthood provided abortions up to 13 weeks and six days. EMW previously could give abortions up to 22 weeks, but dropped that to 15 weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe. 

Samuel Crankshaw, spokesperson for ACLU of Kentucky which is representing EMW in state and federal lawsuits, said the provider is taking phone calls to help answer questions about options and connecting people to abortion funds. 

“There’s a lot to navigate right now,” he said, adding that “[EMW is] prepared to reopen if and when that is possible. And they are very hopeful that they can resume services.”

Crankshaw said the legal back and forth with access has been confusing to patients. EMW turned away almost 200 patients the week after Roe was overturned. Abortions soon resumed but Crankshaw said they only saw a total of 232 patients for abortions in all of July. For comparison, EMW did 252 abortions in April and 314 in May, WFPL News reported

The Kentucky Supreme Court oral arguments in November are expected a week after voters will decide whether to add language to the state’s constitution which would explicitly say there is no right to an abortion. 

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.