The Continuing Saga of Kentucky Cannabis…

Headlines from the past week on the continuing argument concerning Cannabis “legalization” in Kentucky…

Witnesses testify against Kentucky legalizing marijuana

LOUISVILLE (WHAS) — A proposal to balance Kentucky’s pension crisis with proceeds from pot sales has gained a lot of attention on social media. Thursday it was the focus of a hearing in Frankfort.  

Governor Matt Bevin has said he’s against recreational or “adult use” of marijuana but Senator Dan Seum, a powerful member of Governor Bevin’s own party, thinks it’s a way to bail Kentucky out of the pension crisis.

There’s still a way to go before even medicinal marijuana could be approved in Kentucky so the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection listened to a panel of experts opposed to pot.

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Law Enforcement Group Opposes Legalized Marijuana in Kentucky

As Kentucky lawmakers explore ways to pay for public employee pensions, a coalition of law enforcement groups say legalizing marijuana for recreational use isn’t the answer.

“I’m not willing to risk my grandchildren’s health to save my pension,” Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard W. Sanders said yesterday while testifying before the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection. “I don’t think that is the right way to go with this thing.”

Sanders is a 40-year law enforcement veteran with 21 years vested in the state’s hazardous duty pension.

Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Executive Director Van Ingram testified that marijuana is harmful to society.

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Hearing Held in Frankfort About Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Kentucky

Hearing Held in Frankfort About Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Kentucky

A public forum was held with the Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection. The committee heard testimony on cannabis and public safety.

Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Police, the National Marijuana Initiative and Smart Approaches to Marijuana were representative to testify. There was also an opportunity for people who wanted to give their opinion but are not scheduled to testify.

STATE BY STATE: Kentucky Cannabis News

Sen. Dan Seum has said legalizing marijuana and taxing it could help the state dig out of the massive pension hole.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders says this situation isn’t just about the pension.

“My 40 years in law enforcement tells me this is not the savior,” says Sanders. “I’m not willing to risk my children and grandchildren’s health to save my pension.”

During the meeting a committee voted to send a letter to the Food and Drug Administration asking for continued and accelerated research.

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Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Will Veto Any Legislative Attempt to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

One Kentucky lawmaker is pushing for legalization as a way to solve the state’s pension problem, but Gov. Bevin says it’ll have to wait until he’s out of office.

With California, Massachusetts and Maine debuting recreational marijuana markets next year, it may seem like legal weed is everywhere. But beyond the country’s progressive coastal hubs, huge swaths of America are still being thrown in jail for cannabis crimes, with politicians who are supposed to be protecting their constituents pushing blatant lies about weed in an effort to protect prohibition’s status quo.

In Kentucky, Republican state Senator Dan Seum is ready to change those tired traditions, and has already voiced plans to introduce legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, with an eye towards funding the state’s floundering pension program through cannabis tax revenue.

However, rationally or not, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is firmly cemented in the past and will do everything in his power to block Seum’s legalization effort, effectively signaling a death sentence for Kentucky cannabis reform until at least 2020.

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This meeting was not supposed to known to the public… “Frankfort, Anti-Marijuana Discussion”

Additional information here:

KY4MM

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This meeting was not supposed to known to the public… “Frankfort, Anti-Marijuana Discussion”

I have been informed of these meetings taking place in Frankfort, Kentucky, this Thursday, October 12, 2017 @ 1:00pm.  I am posting the information here!  Please follow links to obtain more information!

#1

***Attention mark your calendars for this Thursday’s Anti Marijuana Discussion***

Should KY Veterans, or Public Protection Officers (Fire Fighters, Police, EMT) be criminals for trying to find a better quality of life?
Come show support for KY patient’s safe access to cannabis.
Thursday October 12, 2017 @ 1:00 P.M.
Capital Annex Room 154 (702 Capital Ave., Frankfort 40601)
Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection Committee

— in Kentucky State Capitol.

*****************************************************************

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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10:00 am, Annex Room 131

PROGRAM REVIEW AND INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE

Agenda: Potential Legal Action Against Drug Industry for Contributing to Opioid Abuse in Kentucky; Purdue Pharma Settlement • Attorney General Andy Beshear Presentation of staff report Kentucky’s Foster Care System Responses by • Adria Johnson, Commissioner • Elizabeth Caywood, Executive Advisor, Department for Community Based Services • Kelly Stephens, Manager Court Services, Administrative Office of the Courts Available for questions • Officials from Personnel Cabinet

Members: Sen. Danny Carroll (Co-Chair), Rep. Lynn Bechler (Co-Chair), Sen. Tom Buford, Sen. Perry B. Clark, Sen. Wil Schroder, Sen. Dan “Malano” Seum, Sen. Reginald Thomas, Sen. Stephen West, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Rep. Chris Fugate, Rep. Brian Linder, Rep. Donna Mayfield, Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, Rep. Rob Rothenburger, Rep. Arnold Simpson, Rep. Walker Thomas

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1:00 pm, Annex Room 154

INTERIM JOINT COMMITTEE ON VETERANS, MILITARY AFFAIRS, AND PUBLIC PROTECTION

Agenda: Pledge of Allegiance Distinguished Veteran Marijuana and Public Safety • Richard W. Sanders, Commissioner, Kentucky State Police • Van Ingram, Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Staff • Ed Shemelya, Director, National Marijuana Initiative • Tony Coder, Director, State and Local Affairs, Smart Approaches to Marijuana School and Campus Safety • Alex Payne, Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky State Police • Mark Filburn, Commissioner, Department of Criminal Justice Training

Members: Sen. Albert Robinson (Co-Chair), Rep. Tim Moore (Co-Chair), Sen. Julian M. Carroll, Sen. Perry B. Clark, Sen. C.B. Embry, Sen. Denise Harper Angel, Sen. Ernie Harris, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, Sen. Stan Humphries, Sen. Dennis Parrett, Sen. Wil Schroder, Sen. Dan “Malano” Seum, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, Sen. Mike Wilson, Sen. Max Wise, Rep. Robert Benvenuti , Rep. Tom Burch, Rep. Will Coursey, Rep. Jeffery Donohue, Rep. Myron Dossett, Rep. Jim DuPlessis, Rep. Chris Fugate, Rep. Jeff Greer, Rep. Chris Harris, Rep. Mark Hart, Rep. Regina Huff, Rep. Dan Johnson, Rep. DJ Johnson, Rep. Donna Mayfield, Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, Rep. Brandon Reed, Rep. Rob Rothenburger, Rep. Dean Schamore, Rep. Walker Thomas

SOURCE LINK

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/legislativecalendarv2/sp_bss_calendar_/index

https://www.facebook.com/KY4MM/posts/1461959113839300

https://www.facebook.com/jaime.montalvo.3110?fref=ufi&rc=p

https://www.facebook.com/amy.stalk.3?fref=ufi&rc=p

Republican state Senator will propose recreational marijuana as way to create needed pension revenue

10/04/2017 03:11 PM

VIDEO THROUGH THIS LINK!

With one of the worst funded pension systems in the entire nation in the commonwealth, Republican state Sen. Dan Seum says the need for new revenue could take the state higher, legally.

Seum, R-Fairdale, suggests legalizing marijuana could add badly needed new revenues to the state coffers totaling $100 million or more a year. The money represents an untapped stream of cash to pay down estimated unfunded liabilities ranging from $37 billion to $64 billion in the state pension systems.

“I think desperation might help — we need a billion dollars (a year),” Seum said of the chances of legalizing marijuana in Kentucky.

Legislative leaders expect their proposals to reform the state pension systems will be made public in the next 10 days, but those proposed tweaks are not expected to deal with revenue in a special session likely called this year.

Seum says he will propose legislation allowing adult use of cannabis in Kentucky before the 2018 regular session.

“I’m looking at adult use, because that’s where the money is at,” Seum said.

The upcoming session will mainly focus on crafting and passing a two-year state budget, and Seum thinks the need for money to address unfunded pensions will open the door to marijuana.

“Once we come out of the special session the governor is about to call, then we’re going to have a real, hopefully a real understanding of what the needs are when it comes to revenue,” he said.

Seum refers to marijuana legalization in Kentucky as a “jobs bill,” adding that Kentuckians should look no further than the bourbon industry to see the ancillary revenue that is generated from the industry.

Twenty-eight states have legalized some form of marijuana, and Seum says his bill will largely mirror what’s in place currently in Colorado, which approved legalized use by adults over 21 years old in 2012.

Seum said his son, Dan Seum Jr., visited Colorado this year to see how the 2012 legislation was written and what tweaks have been made in the years following passage, and that’s the model the Fairdale Republican will follow when he prefiles a bill later this year.

Jason Warf, political director of Alliance for Innovative Medicine, said that he thinks the market in Kentucky could be larger than what Colorado has seen, and thus more revenue could be expected.

“Obviously, it’s a time here in Kentucky where we need to look at our options,” Warf said.

Warf said that in Colorado dispensaries are licensed through the Department of Revenue and enforced by a self-funded marijuana enforcement division, a model he thinks Kentucky could duplicate with success.

Seum said he is also in favor of bringing in expanded casino gaming to the state in an effort to create as much new revenue as possible.

“As a legislator I’m not inclined to look at any kind of taxes, new taxes or additional taxes until we have explored the possibility of creating new monies,” he said.

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Lawmakers hear sobering account of opioid crisis

September 21, 2017

Lawmakers hear sobering account of opioid crisis

FRANKFORT – At one Kentucky hospital, people are actually bringing in heroin and shooting up with patients.

That’s one example of the “very desperate situation” the opioid-abuse crisis has created, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Dave Adkisson said while testifying before a panel of state legislators yesterday in the Capitol Annex.

He was among more than 25 people from across the country who testified about the best policies to attack the crisis at a rare six-hour meeting of both the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare and Family Services, and the Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee.

“Today is a snapshot,” meeting co-chair Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, said of the topics on the agenda that included prevention, treatment and criminal justice issues.

Co-chair Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, R-Taylor Mill, said the point of combining the two committees’ meetings was to show the complexity of the opioid-abuse crisis and need for a coordinated, long-term strategy to tackle it.

“We know that everything we have heard about the opioid use disorder problem, heroin problem, is real to many families and our communities,” she said, “and it cuts across all demographics. It touches everyone. We know it doesn’t matter where you live. Addiction doesn’t care how smart you are, where you went to school or how much money you make.”

Office of Drug Control Policy Executive Director Van Ingram testified that 1,404 Kentuckians died of a drug overdose last year. He said the introduction of the synthetic opiate fentanyl into the heroin supply was largely driving the death rate. In addition, fentanyl has been present in 53 percent of the drug overdoses recorded in Kentucky so far this year.

He said the Kentucky General Assembly passed a number of measures in the last five or six years to address opioid abuse, but it takes time for the full impact of those laws to be seen.

“People do get better,” Ingram said. “People do recover, although for those people on the front lines, it doesn’t seem that way.”

In what he described as a “rare bright spot, there were 70 million fewer dosage units of opioids prescribed last year in Kentucky than in 2011. (That percentage doesn’t include buprenorphine, a semisynthetic opioid that is used to treat opioid addiction.) There are still about 300 million dosage units of opioids being prescribed in Kentucky.

“This whole problem is the overexposure of opioids to our country and state,” Ingram said. “We are reducing that overexposure.”

He said the passage of House Bill 333 earlier this year would further drive down the number of opioids prescribed. It prevents doctors from prescribing more than a three-day supply of opioid painkillers, with some exceptions allowed. It also increased penalties for trafficking in opioids and authorized the state Office of the Inspector General to investigate trends in drug usage and trafficking.

Department for Medicaid Services Medical Director Dr. Gil Liu testified on the impact of opioid abuse disorder on Kentucky’s Medicaid program.

At the beginning of 2014 Kentucky spent about $56 million in Medicaid money on behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, he said. By the end of 2016, Kentucky was spending about $117 million in Medicaid money on those treatments.

Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell, asked what percent of people with substance abuse disorder have a behavioral health disorder, outside of the drug issue.

“Well over half of the people,” Liu said.

Adkisson said the impact of the opioid crisis on Kentucky’s health was staggering.

“Less obvious, however, is the toll that is taken on the state’s economic growth and development,” he said. “In Kentucky the opioid crisis has contributed to a low workforce-participation rate.

“At a time when job openings and investment in Kentucky are reaching record highs, we must provide the healthy productive workforce needed to grow the economy.”

Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, asked how the state could fund the mental health, treatment and prevention programs needed after the governor recently proposed cuts of 17 percent for most state agencies in the current fiscal year to make up for an expected budget shortfall.

Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Medical Director Dr. Allen J. Brenzel said grant money is helping to pay for programs to tackle the opioid crisis.

“The good news … is that resources are coming,” he said. “That is something I don’t often say. We have received funding from the legislature, the governor’s budget and we have received a significant number of grants.”

Kentucky was recently awarded a $10.5 million federal grant to help on programs for opioid overdose victims, pregnant and parenting women, individuals re-entering society upon release from criminal justice settings and adolescents and young adults at risk of addiction.

“Now, what is very critical, is that we use those dollars, and guide those dollars to the most effective evidence-based intervention,” Brenzel said.

Wuchner said the grant money couldn’t come fast enough.

“Opioid addiction is a ravenous beast because its increasing tolerance requires individuals to take higher doses to stave off withdrawal and addiction spiral can happen quickly,” she said. “It fractures families, lives, communities and futures. It fills our headlines daily. It fills our courtrooms, our jails, our hospital ERs, our NICUs (neonatal intensive care unit). It fills our court dockets, and it fills our morgues.”

— END —

Kentucky prosecutors warn against budget cuts during legislative committee meeting

For Immediate Release

September 15, 2017

Kentucky prosecutors warn against budget cuts during legislative committee meeting

FRANKFORT—Kentucky prosecutors today told state lawmakers that they have little to nothing to cut from their budgets.

Governor Matt Bevin requested that most state agencies plan to cut around 17 percent from their current budgets in a letter sent to state officials last week. The cuts are expected to save the state around $350 million, state officials say.  But prosecutors like Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said the cuts would “not only eliminate (specific programs). They would shut down our offices.”

Commonwealth’s attorney and county attorney office budgets both fall under the Executive branch, which the Governor oversees. 

“We’re talking one in three employees in our office if we implement cuts October 1,” said Sanders. By January, he said possibly 50 percent of his employees would be have to be let go, under the plan. Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron said the same scenario would likely play out across the state, with prosecutors in the largest judicial circuits affected the most.

“The bigger jurisdictions are going to bear the brunt of it. Our conservative estimate is the larger officials would have to look at laying off 60 to 70 percent of our total staff. That’s just not doable,” he told the committee.

Cohron said staff cuts would negatively impact the state’s heroin “Rocket Docket”—an efficiency program in place in over 30 of the state’s 57 judicial circuits that puts treatment ahead of incarceration for certain drug offenses. Local jails statewide are on track to save around $50 million by the end of fiscal year 2018 due to the success of the Rocket Docket program, he said.

Staff cuts could also restrict funding for advocacy of elderly, children and domestic violence victims, Cohron said, since criminal prosecution comes first. All non-court personnel, including victim advocates, would “have to be looked at being reduced immediately,” he said, adding that court appearances and timely disposition of cases would also be impacted by reductions.

“There are human costs to this,” he said.

Henderson County Attorney Steven Gold, who is also the president of the Kentucky County Attorneys Association, said the state’s 120 county attorney offices collect child support, serve as a financial watchdog, and advise and assist county governments. They are also a key player all criminal cases in the Commonwealth, he said, “plus mental health, guardianship, child dependency/neglect/abuse, truancy and runaway” cases and more. While Gold said county attorneys “embrace” their work, they need the funding to meet their obligations. Budget reductions would work counter to that, he said.

“If we are to believe that out of the crucible that is court comes justice, we must have good people—well-funded, well-trained people—on both sides to make that justice a result,” he told the panel.

Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton, asked how much of a cut the prosecutorial system could withstand. None, Sanders said.

“How much of a cut we can sustain when we’re talking about budget reduction? Zero. Because…we’re already going to be short on funds. We’re already going to be laying people off,” he said.

Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, said government’s top priority is public protection. He encouraged prosecutors to make that clear when working with lawmakers in coming months.

“Don’t be shy about saying ‘why is the state spending money on this when we don’t have enough law enforcement officers on the street? When we don’t have enough prosecutors?” Benvenuti said.

A report on factors affecting the state Department of Juvenile Justice and an overview of KASPER (the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System) were also presented to the committee.

–END–

Kentucky Surging Forward Following Legislative Session

commonwealth of kentucky

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Governor’s Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Woody Maglinger
502-564-2611
Woody.Maglinger@ky.gov

Kentucky Surging Forward Following Legislative Session

Op-Ed by Governor Matt Bevin

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 16, 2017) – On the first Saturday in May each year, the Kentucky Derby captures the attention and fascination of the world and creates special moments that will long be remembered. The Derby is truly unmatched as a sporting event and spectacle.  A brief hush precedes the opening of the starting gate, followed by the roar of the crowd as the horses explode forward powerfully and majestically. The start to the Derby provides a powerful analogy for what we have experienced recently in our state. Thanks to an outstanding effort by the General Assembly and our administration, Kentucky is surging forward.

The 2017 legislative session was one of the most productive in Kentucky history. Much of our agenda was focused on making Kentucky a better place to do business. It should come as no surprise that the three largest economic development announcements in Kentucky history have occurred since January of this year. Amazon announced their decision to invest $1.5 billion in Northern Kentucky where they will build their Prime Air Hub. Toyota announced a $1.33 billion investment in their Georgetown facility. In April, Braidy Industries revealed their plans to invest $1.3 billion dollars in Greenup County, where they will build a state-of-the-art aluminum mill, creating 550 high-paying jobs. CEO, Craig Bouchard, made it clear during his remarks at the announcement that his company would not have considered locating here if Kentucky had not been a right-to-work state. Braidy, Amazon and others have also been very complimentary of our administration’s passion for recruiting businesses to Kentucky.

Just last week, LINAK U.S. announced a $33 million expansion that will create an additional 413 full-time jobs. That announcement follows companies like UWH, TG Automotive, Traughber, Perfetti van Melle, PuraCap Laboratories, Bulleit Distilling Company and dozens of others which have also recently announced expansions or groundbreakings in our state. These announcements are only the beginning. Like those Derby horses bursting from the gate, Kentucky’s economic expansion is just getting started. Stay tuned. There is more to come.

It is important to note, however, the recent legislative session was about much more than just the economy. For instance, bills were passed that will allow our children in failing schools to have an opportunity to learn in high quality public charter schools and, going forward, we will base higher education funding on school outcomes. Another bill will return more authority to local school boards. These bills, now signed into law, will introduce competition into our education system and will result in better outcomes for all our students. Additionally, we passed a medical review panel bill that will lower medical costs and a bill that will allow funding for apprenticeship programs.

Pro-life laws were created that more accurately reflect the values of our voters. Kentucky is overwhelmingly a pro-life state. Huge bipartisan support for the twenty-week abortion ban and the ultrasound bill reflect that. We also moved Planned Parenthood, the nation’s number one abortion provider, to the back of the line for federal funds.

An important criminal justice law was signed to help the children and families of those who have paid their debt to society. The law allows for work release, work opportunities within prison, and the earning of professional licenses. By helping incarcerated individuals train to get work ready, we reduce recidivism and give children and their parents a chance to be a family again.

We passed legislation to better ensure that our state treats foster children with the respect and dignity they deserve. Kentucky will now allow the courts the leeway to place these children with fictive kin. These are non-blood relatives with whom the child already has a loving relationship and who are willing to provide a home for the child. Likewise, foster kids can now obtain their driver’s license at the age of 16, enabling them to gain independence as they acquire the mobility needed to get to school or to a part-time job.

A new law was passed that will put much needed limits (a three day supply) on the amount of opioid pain medication that can be prescribed at one time. Medical professionals were asked for extensive input as this law was drafted. As a result, there are ample exclusions for physicians who are treating patients with cancer and chronic pain, as well as those on hospice care or who have valid need for additional pain medication.

These are merely a few highlights of all that was accomplished during the 2017 legislative session.

I love the name of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, “Always Dreaming.” That is the American way. From the beginning of our administration, we have repeatedly stated our vision for Kentucky to become the center of excellence in America for engineering and advanced manufacturing and for each of us, individually and collectively, to become the best version of ourselves. The 2017 legislative session has afforded Kentucky the opportunity to get off to a roaring start towards achieving these goals. I am confident that we will succeed, because #WeAreKY.

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In Kentucky, This Is What the War on Abortion Rights Looks Like

kentucky_abortion_clinic_0413

By Lucy Westcott On 4/16/17 at 8:20 AM

Saturday is usually the busiest day for protests outside EMW Women’s Clinic in Louisville, the last remaining abortion provider in Kentucky that came dangerously close to shutting down last week.

As women walk to and from the clinic and the parking lot, volunteers dressed in bright orange vests walk alongside them, forming a human barrier against an angry and increasingly violent mass of protesters yelling hateful remarks and waving signs. One protester likes to shove her sign into the escorts’ faces. Another, known as Backwards Bob, preaches at the women as he walks backwards in front of them, forcing himself into their line of vision.

Kate Lafferty, a graduate student and volunteer at the clinic, says escorts are posted at different points in a one-block radius around the clinic where patients walk, including on street corners or in an alleyway that leads to a parking garage. On a Saturday in late March, Lafferty was one of 45 escorts at EMW protecting the women seeking abortions from roughly 75 yelling, crying and preaching protesters.

“We’re always in sight of one another,” she says. “You see the familiar [protesters] and it’s definitely shocking.”

A federal judge ruled this week that the Kentucky clinic serving thousands of women annually can stay open—for now. But state lawmakers are looking to shut down the facility in a move that would make Kentucky, which already has some of the strictest laws limiting women’s reproductive healthcare, the only state in the nation without an abortion clinic.

The battle in Kentucky reflects renewed efforts across the nation from Republican-led state legislatures and a GOP majority in Congress to limit women’s right to abortion access. The assault is also coming from the new White House, where President Donald Trump signed a bill Thursday allowing states to withhold federal Title X family planning funding from Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions.

“Those of us who have been involved with access to abortion since the 1970s know that we’re more facing pre-Roe v. Wade days now than making any progress,” says Kate Cunningham, president of A Fund, an all-volunteer organization that has been helping Kentucky women pay for abortions since 1993. “Before Roe, there were women driving through the night to take women from Louisville to New York to access abortion. We hope and trust we don’t have to go back there, to those days, but that’s where we are. It’s so tough.”

In Kentucky, lawmakers argue that the Louisville clinic violates state requirements that such facilities have emergency medical agreements with a hospital and an ambulance service. Abortion rights activists note these kind of rules are excessive and not medically necessary, and in March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Louisville clinic to try to keep it open.

U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers issued a temporary restraining order in March against the state of Kentucky, which had threatened to shut down the clinic on April 3. That move would have made Kentucky the first state without a legal provider. Stivers then signed an order Monday to keep the clinic open until the lawsuit is resolved, and the clinic’s license has been renewed through May 31, 2018. The trial is set to begin in the first week of September.

If Kentucky does become the first state to lose all providers, it would result in even bigger barriers for women, says Elizabeth Nash, state issues experts at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights think tank based in New York. Not only will women have to travel longer distances to receive care, but clinics in surrounding states will have a bigger demand that will likely result in longer waiting times for an extremely time-sensitive procedure.

“Travel costs money, so do hotel rooms,” says Nash. “Not everybody gets paid time off. Essentially, you would be losing out on earning money. It balloons.”

But order or not, getting a termination remains an enormous challenge in Kentucky. Lafferty, 29, has been escorting at EMW for the past four months with her husband, Patrick Danner. Originally from New Jersey, she says it was a jolt to arrive in Kentucky and see how difficult it is to obtain an abortion compared to her home state and most of the northeastern United States.

“Having people preaching at you, holding up signs,” she says. “That was definitely a shock to me.”

Lafferty says she’s been called a murderer and told by protesters that women’s bodies are only good for one thing: reproducing. “Clients are quite shocked” by it, too, she says.

Fausta Luchini, 61, has volunteered as a clinic escort at EMW for the past eight years. During that time, she has seen the situation outside the clinic deteriorate as protesters have become increasingly aggressive. Photos sent by Luchini to Newsweek show protesters shoving large signs in escorts’ face, or getting uncomfortably close.

“The goal of escorts is to hold space for the client so the client is empowered to do what they want to do. That means that we really ignore, or do the best we can to ignore, the protesters,” says Luchini. “Many clients are really upset. Being with somebody and doing that walk with somebody who is crying, who is just in distress; emotionally, it can be difficult that way.”

“Chasers,” or protesters who follow patients and talk, preach or cry at them, all while invading their personal space, are another issue for Luchini and the women she escorts. “One in particular likes to walk in front of them and walk backwards,” she says. “We call him Backwards Bob.”

Once, the protesters discovered Luchini’s name, Googled her and found her mother’s obituary, which was read out to her during an escorting session.

“That was kind of bizarre,” she says. “That was unsettling.”

Related: Kentucky’s last clinic saved from ‘imminent closure’

Part of Luchini’s job as an escort is figuring out the safest way to move patients from their car to the clinic while avoiding protesters who have become increasingly aggressive. Although there’s an eight-foot safety barrier between the clinic and the protesters, EMW opens onto the street, meaning demonstrators can essentially stand anywhere except inside the building. The majority of the patients Luchini escorts come from Kentucky, although some travel from Indiana, which has 11 abortion clinics in all, but only 44 percent of all women live in counties with such facilities.

A spokesperson for the Psalms 82 (P82), a Christian anti-abortion group with a strong presence outside the Louisville clinic, tells Newsweek that its members are “not surprised at all by the judge’s order to keep [EMW] open. We expected it.” The group is known to film clients as they go to their appointments, says Lafferty.

Nash says Kentucky is one of seven states that have a single abortion provider left, joining West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Mississippi and Wyoming. It’s part of a decades-long decline in abortion providers, whether it’s due to better access to contraceptives — and therefore fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions — or state-level regulations that have kept new doctors from becoming abortion providers.

“The political landscape has changed in Kentucky and the Legislature has now made it its business to not only restrict abortion access through legislation, but also restrictions to family planning services,” says Nash, citing a recent law in Kentucky allowing the state to withhold state funds to clinics, including Planned Parenthood, that provide only family planning services. “There’s a real landscape change for reproductive health in Kentucky.”

Kentucky women unable to pay for a termination in their home state can obtain help from Cunningham’s A Fund. Last year, the organization helped 416 Kentucky women pay for abortions in seven states, including Kentucky; in 2015, that number was 314, says Cunningham. The average fiscal assistance provided by A Fund last year was $114, ranging from payments of $50 to $2,000.

“Many women find it more geographically convenient to go out of state for an abortion than come to Louisville,” says Cunningham.

Women in western Kentucky might go to Granite City, Illinois, while those in Bowling Green might go to Nashville, Tennessee. Women in northern Kentucky tend to travel to Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio for their abortions, and women in southeastern Kentucky go to Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Those states also have rather arduous so-called informed consent requirements, so women have to go and stay for a couple of days or make a couple of trips,” says Cunningham. “There’s nothing easy about it.”

Don Cox, a lawyer for EMW, is looking ahead to the first week of September, when the court case is set to begin. He says it’s “irrational that we should have to waste our time and effort dealing with stupid regulations and statutes like these.”

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Cunningham, in the meantime, says she’s working with escorts and others to try and establish at 20-ft safety zone at the clinic’s entrance to better protect the “heroic” volunteers. Until then, EMW escorts will continue donning orange vests and walking women to the clinic doors, protecting their constitutional right to have a termination.

“When a woman comes to EMW to get an abortion, she has already overcome some tremendous barriers,” says Luchini. “The protesters are just the last hurdle. They don’t see themselves that way, but that’s all they are.”

“It’s the last thing they gotta conquer.”

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