Kettering abortion provider appeals to Ohio Supreme Court to stay open

Attorneys for the Women’s Med Center, an abortion facility in Kettering, on Monday filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court in its fight to remain open.

Women’s Med is seeking to overturn an Ohio Department of Health (ODH) order that effectively forces it to close because it cannot obtain a written transfer agreement from local hospitals.

MORE: Dayton leaders ask health care systems to ‘preserve’ abortion access

A transfer agreement means that an area hospital would accept patients from the clinic in emergencies, but Women’s Med supporters said hospitals must do that anyway. They called the requirement politically motivated.

Without the transfer agreement, ODH has refused to renew the center’s ambulatory surgical facility license.

The Second District Court of Appeals sided with ODH.

Women’s Med attorney Jennifer Branch explained the appeal filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday, saying the court will first have to decide if it will hear the case.

“The state’s memo is due in 30 days. Once it is filed, it may take the court a few weeks to decide whether to let us appeal,” Branch said. “In the meantime, the clinic remains open.”

Branch’s appeal notes that Women’s Med has been unable to obtain a transfer agreement from any Dayton-area hospital since 2002, but a variance was granted in 2008.

Starting in 2012, ODH required Women’s Med to request a variance annually. The director did not rule on variance requests in 2012, 2013, or 2014, according to Branch.

On September 25, 2015, the director denied the center’s variance request because it did not comply with ODH’s variance rule or the variance statute.

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“The director found that WMCD’s contracts with three back-up physicians and a group practice were insufficient,” Branch wrote in her appeal. “The director told WMCD it was not entitled to appeal the variance denial.”

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, believes the Ohio Supreme Court will uphold the Second District Court’s ruling.

“I am confident the Supreme Court will uphold the law despite this appeal,” Antani said. “Soon, the doors of the abortion clinic in Kettering will be closed and countless babies’ lives will be saved.”

The Dayton City Commission last week voted 4-1 to approve a nonbinding resolution that asks Premier Health and Kettering Health Network to sign a transfer agreement with the Women’s Med Center in Kettering.

Commissioner Matt Joseph voted against the resolution, saying he is pro-life and did not agree with the resolution’s language.

The city’s resolution says the state’s requirement for a transfer agreement from a local hospital is medically unnecessary and simply is an attempt to force abortion clinics to close.

Access to abortion is not necessary to women’s good health and does not lead to lower infant mortality rates as pro-abortion advocates claim, countered Margie Christie, Dayton executive director of Right to Life.

“Premier Health should not be bullied into this agenda by inaccurate or misleading information,” Christie said.

MORE: Kettering abortion clinic loses appeal to stay open, may go to Supreme Court

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