Circuit Judge Mitch Perry found that Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky “had, as it had claimed, been following directions of state officials when it began offering abortions in December as part of its effort to obtain a state license,” Deborah Yetter reports for The Courier-Journal.
The directions came as Bevin’s Democratic predecessor, Steve Beshear, was preparing to leave office. Bevin’s lawsuit contends that any pre-license authorization was contrary to law, that the facility’s patient-transfer agreements with other health-care facilities were a sham, that six abortions were performed before the authorization was given Dec. 7, and that Planned Parenthood was “attempting to accelerate the process” before Bevin took office in the first minutes of Dec. 8.
“Perry found no evidence Planned Parenthood had willfully violated the law during the licensing process,” Yetter reports. “Rather, the judge found that cabinet officials, prior to the Bevin administration, had followed 20 years of consistent application of the law and state regulations involving abortion clinics. Perry said it ‘defies reason’ to conclude Planned Parenthood willfully violated the law.”
Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said the state will appeal. The lawsuit seeks fines of $684,000, based on state law allowing a fine of up to $10,000 for each violation and $1,000 a day for continuing violations.
Perry’s ruling doesn’t mean Planned Parenthood “can resume offering abortions immediately,” Yetter notes. “It must first obtain a license from the Bevin administration’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
And it suffered a setback in that effort in March when KentuckyOne Health backed out of an agreement required as part of a license to provide hospital care in the event of an emergency.” Planned Parenthood said KentuckyOne CEO Ruth Brinkley cited “incredible” outside pressure as the reason. Planned Parenthood has submitted new transfer agreements to the cabinet, said its attorney, Thomas Clay.