Judge grants Dayton abortion clinic’s request to temporarily block rule enforcement

TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Women’s Med receives temporary restraining order against Ohio Department of Health.

The state is temporarily blocked from enforcing a law that could potentially close the only Dayton-area abortion clinic.

Women’s Med Center requested a temporary restraining order against Ohio Department Health, because the abortion clinic said the state was prematurely enforcing a new abortion law.

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The new law, Senate Bill 157, was set to go into effect March 23 and would have made it more difficult for the clinic to keep its license. Women’s Med said in court documents that it was requesting a restraining order because Ohio Department of Health was already enforcing the law.

The clinic has a license waiver that needs to be reapproved. ODH is accused of prematurely enforcing the new law by making complying with the new law a condition for renewal.

The temporary restraining order was granted Wednesday by Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alison Hatheway. A hearing will be held March 16 on whether the law will be blocked after that date while a legal challenge proceeds.

A message was left late Wednesday afternoon with ODH.

In a group statement, representatives from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, ACLU, ACLU of Ohio, and Women’s Med Center said the judge’s decision “is just one in this series of rulings that sees these technical licensing requirements for what they are — dangerous laws with no other intention than to eliminate access to abortion in Southwest Ohio.”

Women’s Med Center has been fighting over licensing issues with the Ohio Department of Health for years.

The current problem roots back to a requirement that Women’s Med Center in Kettering and other surgical abortion clinics must have a written transfer agreement with a hospital to operate in the state.

The Dayton and Cincinnati area clinics don’t have these agreements and have been operating under waivers signed by doctors affiliated with public medical schools.

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But the new law, Senate Bill 157, requires the clinics to find doctors not affiliated with public medical schools or public institutions to sign the waiver paperwork.

The overwhelming majority of OB/GYNs in the Dayton region work for one of the two hospitals systems, Kettering Health and Premier Health, which have not signed the agreement, or are affiliated with the public medical school at Wright State University.

If the Dayton and Cincinnati area clinics cannot find a way to comply with the new law or successfully challenge the law, then they could be forced to close or stop surgical abortions.

Senate Bill 157, also known as the “born alive” bill that criminalized failure to provide life-saving measures to an infant born after an attempted abortion, was sponsored by state Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City. Ohio Right to Life also praised the passage of Senate Bill 157.

“The intent is to have safer abortions,” Huffman, who’s also a physician, has said previously.

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