Home Opinion OPINION: Ohio Supreme Court should reconsider ruling on Toledo abortion clinic

OPINION: Ohio Supreme Court should reconsider ruling on Toledo abortion clinic

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In light of new evidence in the case, opinion writer Kayla Wood says the Ohio Supreme Court would be wrong not to hear the motion for reversal.

Ten days after the Ohio Supreme Court laid down its 5-2 ruling to close Capital Care Network — the last abortion clinic in Toledo — the clinic’s attorney Jennifer Branch filed a motion for reversal. The court would be mistaken to ignore it.

In 2013, Ohio legislators banned abortion clinics and public hospitals from entering into a patient transfer agreement even though the law requires an agreement with a local hospital. The agreement establishes a partnership with a hospital in case of medical emergencies during operations at the clinic, and the new legislation effectively ended the partnership Capital Care had with University of Toledo Medical Center; thus leaving the clinic without a transfer agreement for several months during the end of 2013 through the beginning of 2014.

Without a transfer agreement, Capital Care opened itself up to further legal speculation because it was not obeying the previously stated law. The Ohio Health Department used this conjured up ammunition to revoke the clinic’s license to operate in 2014. The clinic has since been fighting legal battles to provide adequate reproductive health care.  

The legislation to ban transfer agreements in public hospitals was a clear attempt from Conservative lawmakers to cut back on abortions performed in the state, as there are few privately owned hospitals but over 200 public hospitals in the state of Ohio. Since there are so few private hospitals in Ohio, it is possible legislators intentionally designed this law to be difficult to adhere to.

When the clinic did find a partner hospital 52 miles away in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Ohio Health Department argued that it didn’t constitute as local because it was not within 30 miles as the law requires. This aspect of the legislation is just another unnecessary hindrance to providing legal abortions.

On Feb. 6, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Ohio Health Department, citing the clinic’s lack of a transfer agreement with a local hospital as a main reason for its decision. It should also recognize the new evidence of a valid, signed transfer agreement with a local hospital.

Last week, however, Capital Care Network acquired a signed transfer agreement with ProMedica, a locally owned and operated non-profit hospital in Toledo.

ProMedica is approximately 3 miles from Capital Care, which meets the local standard as presented in the law mentioned earlier. It is also a privately owned hospital, which does not violate the law stating that public hospitals cannot form partnerships with abortion clinics. And the hospital signed the agreement within the 10-day window the court gave Capital Care to appeal the decision.

In light of the new evidence, Branch is asking the court to reconsider its ruling and hand the case back down to the common pleas court. The motion also allows the clinic to remain open while the court decides whether to accept.

The court has 10 days to respond, and it also has the opportunity to make a landmark decision in this case. If it chooses to stay its decision, effectively closing the last abortion clinic in northwest Ohio, it will simply be following the precedent our traditionally red state has set.

If the court decides to accept the motion, however, it could be setting an entirely new precedent that, for once, the state of Ohio actually cares about women’s health and reproductive rights.

The Ohio Supreme Court has an important decision to make, and in this time of political chaos, not only is the state waiting with baited breath, but the nation should be, too.

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