Kettering abortion provider appeals ruling that would force closure

The Dayton-area’s lone abortion provider has appealed a Montgomery County judge’s decision in late August to uphold a state ruling that would force its closure.

The clinic is expected to remain open during the appeal process, lawyers for Women’s Med said.

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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 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.

Jennifer Branch and David Greer, co-counsel for Women’s Med, have repeatedly attacked the restrictions adopted by the Ohio legislature, which mandate that clinics providing abortions have written transfer agreements with hospitals in case of emergencies. Branch called the requirements medically unnecessary and politically motivated.

Greer explained to this news organization Thursday that the appeal, filed within the required 30-day period, will cover most of the same issues.

“The appeal has been filed to the Second District Court of Appeals, and I understand that the appeal should keep the stay of execution of the order in place,” Greer said. “It is simply about the same issues that have been presented before to see if the Court of Appeals will take a different view of them.”

He added that the lawyers now will just have to follow the legal process as it unfolds.

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“At this point, like any other appeal, there is a briefing schedule that is put together and there is an oral argument that follows the briefing schedule and then the Court of Appeals makes it decision,” he said. “You kind of have to see how the process unfolds, but probably six months is the earliest that you can expect the appeals court to reach a conclusion”

At the center of the dispute has been the constitutionality of the transfer agreement requirement and the inability of Women’s Med to get one.

The Kettering abortion clinic is a little under 4 miles from both Kettering Medical Center, operated by Kettering Health Network, and Miami Valley Hospital South, operated by Premier Health.

Kettering Health said previously, “Kettering Health Network does not have a transfer agreement.”

Premier confirmed there are no agreements at any of its hospitals to accept transfers from clinics that perform abortions, “although our hospitals will accept any patient who presents with an emergency condition.”

Wiseman wrote in her decision “the court simply lacks jurisdiction” to address the arguments by Women’s Med as she upheld the Ohio Department of Health’s decision.

Incumbent State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, and his Democratic opponent Zach Dickerson, who are squaring off in November for the Ohio 42nd House district seat, both sit squarely on the opposite side of the issue.

“I am still confident that ultimately the law will prevail and the clinic will be forced to close,” Antani said after the Wiseman ruling. “I look forward to the judicial process playing out and our judges giving justice to the unborn.”

Dickerson feels that the clinic should stay open.

“I hope the appeal is successful and the clinic stays open. I trust women to make their own health care choices. I wish Niraj Antani did the same,” he said earlier.

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The possible closure of the Kettering clinic would leave seven abortion providers in Ohio, down from 16 operating in 2011.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio lists Cincinnati, Columbus (2), Akron, Bedford Heights, Toledo and Cleveland as having open abortion clinics.

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