Health

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky announced on Thursday that it began offering abortions at its new Louisville location last week, a move that quickly drew criticism from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin

The group moved to a new location in downtown Louisville on Seventh Street last month. In a news release, the Planned Parenthood chapter said that it made a decision to retrofit a building that would be able to accommodate a surgical center.

Despite the political rhetoric, Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide abortions at all of its locations; its clinics provide basic health screenings and birth control for clients, most of whom live in poverty.

The move means Kentucky now has three locations to obtain abortions: the EMW Women’s Surgical Centers in Louisville and Lexington and the Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisville.

Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the new center still offers all the other services that were available at its previous site.

“We decided in looking at our entire array of services at our existing location that it made sense to do a relocation and expand services there in Louisville and try to meet what we believe is an unmet need in that part of Kentucky for the whole array of reproductive health care services,” Cockrum said.

She said the new space offers a “pretty well-buffeted environment so that there will be less risk of harassment.”

State lawmakers are considering Republican-sponsored legislation that would prohibit federal family planning funds, also called Title X funds, from going to Planned Parenthood clinics. Current federal law already prohibits the use of those funds for abortion services.

Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, issued a statement to WFPL late Thursday saying Planned Parenthood is violating the law by offering abortion services.

“They are openly and knowingly operating an unlicensed abortion facility in clear violation of the law,” Bevin said. “We will use the full force of the commonwealth to put a stop to this. There is no room in Kentucky for this kind of blatant disregard for proper legal procedure.”

The governor’s office has yet to respond to a request to clarify what Bevin meant by saying Planned Parenthood is violating the law.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky told Insider Louisville it applied for a license to perform abortions and “commenced services under the guidance of the Office of the Inspector General, the state office that is responsible for licensing health facilities.”

Later Thursday evening, Bevin again stated that the Planned Parenthood chapter is not properly licensed and is “breaking the law.”

The Bevin administration cited a state law that says:

“Any person who, in willful violation of this chapter, operates a health facility or abortion facility without first obtaining a license or continues to operate a health facility or abortion facility after a final decision suspending or revoking a license shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars ($500) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each violation.”

This story has been updated.

WFPL’s Rick Howlett and Kentucky Public Radio’s Ryland Barton contributed to this story.

(Featured image via Women’s eNews/Creative Commons)

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.