LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has approved new regulations it said will make abortion clinics safer for women. But critics say it’s an attempt by Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to shut them down.

The new regulations took effect last Friday, and further restrict who can provide emergency services to abortion clinics such as EMW.

State law requires abortion clinics to have agreements with hospitals and ambulance services to transfer patients in case of emergency.

The new regulations say those agreements have to be a legal contract with a hospital in the same county, and within a 20-minute drive of the clinic. Ambulance services must be licensed in Kentucky and no more than 10 minutes away.

Don Cox, an attorney for EMW Surgical Center, Kentucky’s only remaining abortion provider, said the new rules are for a single purpose.

“To put us out of business. They want something there that we can't meet, so they can eliminate abortions in Kentucky. That's what they're doing, and it is a shame,” he said.

Doug Hogan, the spokesman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services declined to go on camera, but said the regulations are needed to minimize risk in an emergency, and to clarify state law.

Margie Montgomery, the executive director of Kentucky Right to Life said that is reasonable.

“It's not only the pre-born baby that is of great concern, but here is a woman on the verge of losing her own life. And therefore anything we can do to alleviate that from happening, great. I think it's very important,” said Montgomery.

EMW has been the site of daily protests. Cox said the clinic has previously tried and failed to sign agreements with downtown hospitals. The new rules prohibit the clinic from trying to make deals with hospitals across the river in Indiana.

“So, they're just looking for any way they can to make it impossible for us to comply,” he said.

Both EMW and Planned Parenthood have already filed a federal lawsuit over state rules on abortion clinics. In March, a judge issued temporary injunction prohibiting the state from shutting down EMW.

In May, citing public safety concerns, Metro Council Democrats say they plan to push for a buffer zone between protesters and people entering an abortion clinic on Market Street.


Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.