Kettering Women’s Med faces possible closure in abortion fight

The attorney for Women’s Med, the Kettering center that provides abortions for women in southwest Ohio, believes a county judge will rule against the clinic in its fight with the state, forcing it to close.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman heard oral arguments Friday afternoon in a case involving the Ohio Department of Health’s effort to close the Women’s Med center.

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In 2016, Judge Mary Wiseman allowed Women’s Med to remain open as it fought the state’s effort to take its operating license. The clinic had filed an administrative appeal after the state health director revoked the Women’s Med license for alleged violations of transfer agreement and backup physician rules.

On Friday, Wiseman posed a series of questions to Jennifer Branch, the attorney for Women’s Med, and James Wakley, an attorney with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office representing the Ohio Department of Health.

Restrictions adopted by the Ohio legislature mandate that clinics providing abortions have written transfer agreements with hospitals in case of emergencies, and Wiseman allowed both sides to argue if the center should remain open without a transfer agreement.

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Branch said the judge asked “excellent questions,” but she she fears the outcome won’t be a good one for the center.

“I think she is going to rule against us,” Branch said after the hearing. “If there is not a judge that will keep the clinic open after 35 years of operation, it will have to close its doors and stop providing surgical abortions to women in the tri-state area.”

Co-counsel David Greer said that, if the judge does allow the state to close the clinic then, “the stay that is in place will continue for a 30-day period for a filing of an appeal, so that gives us 30 days to think about what course we want to follow.”

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, and Margie Christie, assistant executive director of Dayton Right to Life, were both at the hearing and feel the letter of the law will be followed.

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“Regardless of what side this judge comes down on, I fully expect an appeal from either side to the appellate court, which will hopefully render a full decision,” Antani said. “Obviously, we believe the state law is strong and the abortion clinic should be closed.”

Wiseman said she would rule expeditiously after a review of the facts presented at Friday’s hearing.

Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said the inability of Women’s Med to get a transfer agreement is a matter of politics, not about the health of women.

“So, because of the religious nature of some of the hospitals in the area and just federal politics and those kinds of things, the Women’s Med center of Dayton is unable to secure this medically unnecessary transfer agreement and so, the state of Ohio moved to close the facility and that is what brought us to court,” she said. “It’s all politics.”

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