Why Kentucky needs EMW Women’s Surgical Center


Image courtesy of Creative Commons

“Don’t have sex if you can’t have a baby.”

This is the mandate decades of women have heard over and over. Simple abstinence-only education rings loud and clear across America, yet it’s an antiquated and unrealistic view for many of today’s citizens.

Since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1971, abortion has become a contentious issue in the United States. Access to birth control and sex education has understandably been looped into the issue as well.

Although abortion is legal federally, states can place restrictions on who can perform an abortion, when a woman can receive one and how the operation proceeds. For this reason, the number of abortion clinics in the U.S. has dropped from 705 to 553 between the late ‘80s and 2011, according to The Washington Post.

Currently, seven states have only one clinic. Kentucky had two clinics at the start of 2016 but is now on that list. Soon, it could be the only state without a clinic.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who is “unapologetically pro-life,” has waged a war on the EMW Women’s Surgical Center since March, according to the New York Times. Officials say the clinic was not in compliance with a state regulation mandating that abortion clinics have a transfer agreement with an acute care hospital and ambulance service. This regulation allows another hospital to take care of a patient in the case of an emergency.

In January, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed two abortion bills into law, limiting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The governor is “unapologetically pro-life” and plans to sign six more bills limiting abortions. Image courtesy of Creative Commons

On March 13, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services told the clinic if the issues were not resolved within 10 days, it would lose its license.

EMW countered with a federal lawsuit arguing the agreements were never necessary. They further alleged that this was a purely political move and violation of due process. At the end of the month, federal district Judge Greg Stivers stopped the state from taking action until there could be a federal hearing.

The hearing took place in September, but a verdict was not decided. The EMW clinic remains open, but Kentucky lawmakers have passed new legislation further restricting abortion access.

As long as Kentucky’s government remains pro-life, the fate of the EMW clinic will be unknown.

But the EMW Women’s Surgical Center represents more than the last abortion clinic in Kentucky. It represents the power of women.

If the EMW Women’s Center disappears, abortions will become unattainable for Kentuckians. Clinics in other states will be too far away and costly for the rural Kentucky residents who have the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy, according to CNN. Without the clinic, women in Kentucky no longer have a right to a safe abortion.

Taking away a woman’s right to an abortion is taking away her right to her body. Taking away her right to control her body strips her of all possible power. If a woman cannot decide what happens to her body and her life, how can she be expected to have power over anything else?

If a woman must provide informed consent to receive an abortion, shouldn’t she also be required to provide informed consent before sex?

Without centers like the EMW, women are denied access to the information that would allow them to make informed consent to sex. The incomplete abstinence-only education many women receive in public school leaves them in the dark about sexually transmitted infections and diseases as well as pregnancy prevention methods. When public schooling fails and education centers are removed, women are stripped of the power of knowledge.

The numbers prove this too. In Kentucky, a state with abstinence-only sex ed, 47% of pregnancies are unplanned according to the Guttmacher Institute.

America needs comprehensive sex education that informs its citizens about pregnancy prevention and STDs. If this is achieved, abortion rates will decline.

If politicians deny their citizens comprehensive sex education and then punish ill-informed women by restricting access to services that can inform and aid them, what else is to be concluded but that politicians first create ignorance and then punish it?

It’s 2017. You don’t have to agree with someone’s decision, but that doesn’t mean you get to take away their right to decide for themselves.


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