Dayton-area’s last abortion clinic gets license to stay open

The Ohio Department of Health has granted Women’s Med Center — the only abortion clinic in the greater Dayton area — an ambulatory surgical facility license.

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The announcement Wednesday afternoon comes just two weeks after the Ohio Supreme Court denied an appeal from the center, upholding lower court rulings that required the facility to get a transfer agreement for its patients to go to a nearby hospital.

The ruling by the Supreme Court meant that the clinic had to immediately stop all surgical abortions, said Jennifer Branch, the attorney for the clinic, and for the past two weeks had been limited to only offering medication abortion.

The approved surgical license by ODH means that Women’s Med can offer both surgical and medication abortion services.

Branch was elated at the news that ODH had granted the surgical license to Women’s Med, and she told this news organization that it is a clear win for those who are seeking to keep the clinic open.

“Despite the long delay in issuing the license, and all the legal hurdles, I am glad the long battle for WMCD’s license is now over,” she said. “Dayton area women no longer have to travel to Cincinnati, Columbus, or Indiana to get surgical care at home.”

Kersha Deibel, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio president and CEO, said that ODH made the correct decision.

“Today’s news is a relief for patients across the Dayton area who depend on Women’s Med Center for comprehensive reproductive health care,” she said. “Ohio is among a growing list of states drastically restricting access to safe and legal abortion through laws that medical experts agree do not enhance patient health or safety.”

MORE: Women’s Med Center appeals state court ruling

The clinic’s variance request, which paved the way for the surgical license approval, was approved by ODH after it managed to secure four physicians to sign on as back-up doctors for the clinic according to Branch.

Lawyers for Women’s Med Center and Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio have filed an ongoing lawsuit in federal court to block the state law which requires a clinic to have the medically unnecessary transfer agreement or variance.

Dayton Right to Life Executive Director Margie Christie said she was “sickened” upon learning of the ODH decision to grant the clinic a surgical license.

“We are truly disheartened and amazed that within a few weeks of the Ohio Department of Health’s license revocation order being upheld they turn around and re-issue a new license,” Christie said. “This licensing absurdity shows absolutely no concern by the Ohio Department of Heath for these women who feel they need such places.”

State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, echoed the sentiments expressed by Christie.

“I am sickened by the decision to grant a license to this abortion clinic, especially after the Supreme Court ruled that the past license denial was within the law,” Antani said. “This decision will cost thousands of babies’ their lives, and I urge this decision to be reversed.”

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