SC Attorney General Alan Wilson Joins 15 Other States in Brief Supporting Kentucky’s Regulation of Abortion Clinics

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Monday, February 11th, 2019

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined 15 other states in asking a federal appeals court to uphold states’ authority to regulate abortion clinics. He and the 16-state coalition are supporting the constitutionality of a Kentucky law requiring abortion clinics to maintain transfer-and-transport agreements with local hospitals. These arrangements enable quick access to higher-level medical care for patients who might experience emergencies or complications at clinics.

The Kentucky provision existed for 19 years without issue. Then, hospitals in the Louisville area disassociated themselves from abortion clinics and ended the transfer-and-transport agreements. At that point, the clinics filed a lawsuit claiming the law created undue burdens for women wanting abortions.

A federal district court accepted the clinics’ reasoning and declared the law unconstitutional. The 16-state brief asks the appeals court to reverse that decision.

“A sovereign state possesses a powerful, overriding interest in ensuring that abortion clinics comply with its health and safety requirements,” Attorney General Wilson said. “We’re asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to protect women’s lives and health.”

According to the states’ brief, the National Abortion Federation’s own 2018 clinical guidelines recommend that clinics “consider developing a transfer agreement with a hospital outlining the means of communication and transport and the protocol for emergency transfer of care.”

The states filed their brief Wednesday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in the case of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P.S.C. v. Adam Meier, Secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Some states, including Ohio, have included abortion clinics within neutral health and safety regulations that apply to all outpatient surgical facilities and the Sixth Circuit has upheld those laws as constitutional.

The states filing the friend-of-the-court brief besides South Carolina are Indiana, Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.