Gov. Bevin's administration sues Planned Parenthood, seeking hundreds of thousands for performing abortions without license

02/18/2016 03:28 PM

UPDATED FRANKFORT — Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration filed a lawsuit Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky on Thursday, accusing the group of operating an abortion clinic without a license in December and January.

Stephen Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, asked the court to fine PPINK either $570,000 for the 57 days its Louisville clinic performed abortions or $230,000 for the 23 abortions performed there from Dec. 3 through Jan. 28, plus $114,000 for operating 57 days without hospital and ambulance transfer agreements in place.

Pitt and Chad Meredith, general counsel for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, are listed as attorneys for the state.

In a statement, Bevin said that while he is a pro-life governor, he accepts that there are laws he opposes.

“However, we are a nation of laws, and my job is to ensure that they are followed regardless of my personal opinion,” the first-term Republican said in a news release announcing the lawsuit against PPINK in Jefferson Circuit Court.

“This administration will have no tolerance for the type of brazen disregard that Planned Parenthood has shown for both the safety of women and the rule of law. We will hold Planned Parenthood accountable for knowingly endangering their patients by providing illegal abortions at a facility that was not properly licensed nor prepared to handle an emergency.”

The lawsuit claims PPINK “knowingly and callously endangered the lives of its patients and began performing abortions at its facility” Dec. 3. Bevin’s administration ordered PPINK to cease abortion services on Jan. 28 after finding required agreements between PPINK and an acute care hospital and ambulance service deficient.

PPINK officials said the group “followed longstanding protocol and received necessary authorization from the appropriate authority … to perform abortions at its facility while awaiting a site survey.”

“All conditions for a survey to occur have been met,” Judi Morrison, PPINK spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We ask that the executive branch continue the licensure process rather than continue to make politically motivated accusations.”

State attorneys also took the former inspector general for CHFS, Maryellen Mynear, to task for rushing the licensing process before Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear left office Dec. 8.

In emails included as exhibits with the lawsuit, Carole Christian, a healthcare attorney with the Louisville law firm Wyatt Tarrant & Combs LLP, said it’s been her experience that the inspector general has had a “longstanding police for many years” that a facility must be operating before an unannounced licensing survey can be conducted.

“For this reason, it is our understanding that it is not only permissible but required for a health facility applicant to conduct operations, at least at some minimal level, after filing a license application although a survey has not been conducted and a license not yet issued,” Christian wrote in a Dec. 1 email to Mynear. “The only alternative would be to have pre-arranged licensure surveys, which is contrary to the longstanding policy of the OIG.”

Mynear “retroactively confirmed to Planned Parenthood that it was a ‘long standing OIG policy’ that abortion clinics could begin operations without a license,” Pitt wrote in the lawsuit.

“The reality, however, is that the Cabinet had never had such a policy relating to abortion facilities. Mynear’s actions ignored clear statutory law and were without authority.”

PPINK also looked to accelerate the process “before its sympathetic advocate willing to ignore the law, Mynear, left the Cabinet for a new job in early January,” the lawsuit says. Mynear now works for Beshear’s son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, as an assistant attorney general.

Terry Sebastian, the younger Beshear’s spokesman, declined to comment on Bevin’s characterization of Mynear in the PPINK lawsuit.

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on personnel matters, including prior employment,” Sebastian said in an email to Pure Politics.

The PPINK lawsuit can be downloaded here: Planned Parenthood lawsuit.pdf

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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