The Second District Court of Appeals sided with the Ohio Department of Health and rejected the appeal filed by the Women’s Med Center, an abortion facility in Kettering, that was seeking to remain open after the state said it should close because it cannot obtain a written transfer agreement from local hospitals.
The case could be headed to the Ohio Supreme Court, according to counsel for the clinic.
On March 12, Ohio’s Second District Court of Appeals heard the appeal regarding an ODH November 2016 adjudication order revoking and refusing to renew Women’s Med Center’s ambulatory surgical facility license.
The center is the Dayton area’s only abortion provider.
In 2016, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Mary Wiseman allowed Women’s Med to remain open as it fought the state’s effort to take its operating license. The clinic filed an administrative appeal after the state health director revoked the license for alleged violations of transfer agreement and backup physician rules.
However, in late August, Wiseman’s 20-page ruling on the latest challenge came down to one basic point: the “court lacks the jurisdiction” to intervene in the Women’s Med dispute with the Ohio Department of Health, she said.
The Second District ruling by a three-judge panel (Mary Donovan, Michael Hall and Michael Tucker) ruled in part that that “ODH was entitled to revoke, suspend, or refuse, to renew the license” pursuant to the Ohio Administration code.”
Dayton Right to Life Assistant Director Margie Christie called the decision “a great win for us and the area.”
“Dayton Right to Life supports this decision and hopes that the Ohio Department of Health acts swiftly in finally closing the door of this unlicensed facility.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, added that he believes the ruling is a victory for anti-abortion supporters in Ohio.
“The state’s law is intended to protect the health of the mother and the unborn child, and clearly the court agreed,” he said. “If the clinic decides to appeal to the Supreme Court, I’m confident the state law will continue to be upheld. Otherwise, the clinic should be immediately closed, and countless lives in the Dayton region will be saved.”
Women’s Med hasn’t been able to get local hospitals to approve a written transfer agreement. Clinic supporters said the agreement isn’t needed because hospitals already have to take emergency patients and said the agreement requirement is politically motivated.
The Kettering abortion clinic is about four miles from both Kettering Medical Center, operated by Kettering Health Network, and Miami Valley Hospital South, operated by Premier Health.
Jennifer Branch and David Greer, co-counsel for Women’s Med, say the transfer agreement is just a political device being used to shutter abortion clinics in Ohio.
Branch said the Women’s Med Center would remain open if it could get one of the local hospitals to sign the agreement.
“The only hospital here in Dayton who has that ability that’s not religious is Miami Valley,” she said. “This whole case would be dismissed in five minutes if Miami Valley would sign a written transfer agreement.”
She added that, the transfer agreement requirements are “medically unnecessary and politically motivated.”
Branch said the clinic would seek to appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, based on the Second District’s ruling.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the closing of Women’s Med would create a hardship for women seeking health care.
“There are seven surgical facilities and two medication-only abortion clinics in Ohio,” she said. “Each and every one of them are a critical resource for their patients. If Women’s Med Center were to close, it would be a devastating loss for the people who need their care.”