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Planned Parenthood Attorneys Seek Suit Dismissal

Exterior of Planned Parenthood's Louisville health center.
Planned Parenthood's Kentucky centers remain open, providing care including wellness visits, birth control, emergency contraception and gender confirming hormone therapy. Planned Parenthood and EMW Women's Surgical Center are also helping patients connect with access to abortions in other states.

The attorneys representing Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky say a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Gov. Matt Bevin's administration lacks the merit needed to proceed and should be dismissed.

The lawsuit filed in February by the state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services against Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky alleges the organization performed nearly two dozen abortions illegally at its downtown Louisville location.

The suit seeks $900,000 in damages.

Thomas Clay and Laura Landenwich, attorneys hired to represent Planned Parenthood, said Tuesday the suit is a "jaw-dropping display of authoritarian hypocrisy."

"The administration has done what it's accusing Planned Parenthood of doing, by bypassing all of the administrative processes, by filing the lawsuit without the input of the Attorney General, who is required to bring the lawsuit," Landenwich said.

Clay called the lawsuit a personal stunt from Bevin.

"The governor has made no secret about his personal feelings on this issue," he said.

Clay said the Bevin administration went from "zero to lawsuit" without first permitting Planned Parenthood the due process warranted under law.

He said Planned Parenthood had no opportunity to respond to alleged deficiencies in their initial application seeking status as an abortion clinic.

The attorneys also questioned whether Stephen Pitt, the counsel for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, was properly appointed in the case.

"I don't recall of ever seeing a case where the governor's lawyer is representing a cabinet within the government," Clay said.

Clay also maintains Planned Parenthood was operating with a "de facto" provisional license as the organization awaited necessary inspections and approval to be granted an official license as an abortion clinic.

"For the Bevin administration to say this process is unprecedented is simply not true," Clay said.

The Bevin administration claims Planned Parenthood was knowingly endangering patients by performing abortions without first being properly licensed.

"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," Bevin said in a February statement.

Counsel for Bevin's administration has 20 days to respond to the motion to dismiss, which was filed Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Bevin did not immediately return a request for comment.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.