The Ohio Supreme Court narrowly refused in August to hear an appeal from Women’s Med Center, a Kettering clinic that provides abortions and is fighting to stay open.
Now, the clinic has launched its appeal asking the court to reconsider that decision and is also contemplating its chances at the federal level.
Women’s Med wanted the state’s top court to reverse a ruling from two lower courts that upheld the Ohio Department of Health’s order for the clinic to close. The state said Women’s Med did not secure a written transfer agreement — in which patients could be sent from the clinic to another hospital, if more care is needed. A transfer agreement from a local hospital is required, the state maintains.
Attorney Jennifer Branch said she filed a motion for reconsideration with Ohio State Supreme Court. It asks the court to reconsider its Aug. 21 decision to decline the clinic’s appeal
“I filed the motion for reconsideration on Sept. 3,” Branch said. “The state’s response is due Sept 13. I expect the Supreme Court will rule in 30-60 days, but that is just a guess.”
Clinic supporters have said the transfer rules are not medically needed and are politically motivated. Opponents said the transfer agreements ensure patient health.
Last week, ODH Director Amy Acton announced the agency denied Women’s Med Center’s variance request, citing “now that the Ohio Supreme Court has declined jurisdiction in the litigation regarding the 2016, that revocation is final, and (Women’s Med Center’s) license is revoked.”
All ambulatory surgical facilities are required to have a transfer agreement with another hospital. Those that aren’t able to secure an agreement must request a variance from the Ohio Department of Health, according to Branch.
Women’s Med filed a new variance request in June and listed four doctors who have admitting privileges, Branch said.
Margie Christie, executive director of Dayton Right to Life, said she supports the decision and the Ohio Supreme Court’s denial of the clinic’s appeal.
“From as far back as 1996, this facility has fought against being required to follow the basic regulations of every other ambulatory surgical facility in the state of Ohio,” she said, adding that the motion for reconsideration, “is just another tactic to keep this facility open.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, has been advocating for the clinic’s closure and wasn’t surprised by the filing of the motion of reconsideration in the case.
“This motion is a waste of taxpayer dollars. The Supreme Court has made its decision, and the clinic must be shut down immediately so that countless lives can be saved,” Antani said.
Christie said that she anticipated that the Women’s Med Center will continue its battle in the federal courts should the state rule against them again.
“They will exhaust every option to protect their revenue stream,” she said. “We, as a community and a state, need to provide safer and better options for our women in unplanned pregnancies.”
Branch confirmed that the battle will go on if the state rules against the clinic’s appeal and that the case would indeed be advanced to the federal level.
“If the Ohio Supreme Court rejects our appeal, we will then ask the federal court to keep the clinic open,” Branch said.
Executive Director Elaina Ramsey of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice said it’s unconscionable that the Ohio Supreme Court would punish pregnant women by denying Women’s Med’s appeal.
“People deserve access to health care in their own communities, including access to safe, legal abortion care,” she said.
If the Kettering center closes, the nearest clinics would be in Columbus and Cincinnati.
Women’s Med is about four miles from both Kettering Medical Center, operated by Kettering Health Network, and Miami Valley Hospital South, operated by Premier Health.