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Judge Rules Ohio Clinic Order Unconstitutional, Allows Sole Toledo Clinic To Remain Open

Judge Rules Ohio Clinic Order Unconstitutional, Allows Sole Toledo Clinic To Remain Open

June 22, 2015 — An Ohio judge on Friday overturned a 2014 ruling from the state's Department of Health that would have required Toledo's sole clinic to close, allowing the clinic to remain in operation, the Toledo Blade reports (Toledo Blade, 6/19).

According to the AP/Willoughby News-Herald, state Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) intends to appeal the decision (Carr Smyth, AP/Willoughby News-Herald, 6/19).

Background

Ohio Department of Health then-Interim Director Lance Himes last year signed an adjudication order revoking the license for the clinic, called Capital Care Network.

The order, scheduled to take effect on Aug. 12, 2014, was based on a recommendation issued last June by a state hearing examiner. The examiner said Capital Care Network should be closed because it does not have a valid emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital, which is required by state law (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/1/14).

Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart in 2014 approved an emergency motion that permitted the clinic to remain open while he considered its appeal of the order. On Thursday, DeWine petitioned the court to expedite its ruling on the case (Toledo Blade, 6/19).

Latest Ruling

In his ruling Friday, Duhart said the health department's order was unconstitutional because the state overreached the limits of its regulatory authority of the clinic. He ruled that the state cannot enact laws that permit hospitals or other third-party institutions to veto women's abortion access.

Further, Duhart said the state violated Ohio's single-subject rule by trying to regulate the issue in the proposed state budget (AP/Willoughby News-Herald, 6/19). He added that he decided to release his opinion on Friday because of the budget provision, which has since been removed (Toledo Blade, 6/19).

The provision, rejected by the state Senate on Wednesday, would have required clinics to have transfer agreements with a hospital within 30 miles. The measure would have been problematic for the Toledo clinic, which currently has an agreement with a hospital 50 miles away (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/19).

Duhart said, "It was my decision to issue the order today given the pending legislation apparently that has been introduced." He added, "Not knowing what the time frame of the pending legislation is, I thought it would be germane and important to make sure that issues that were present prior to, this court made its decision" (Toledo Blade, 6/19).