October 14, 2015 — A federal judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of an Ohio antiabortion-rights law being challenged in court by two abortion clinics, the Hamilton Journal-News/WCPO reports (Christian, Hamilton Journal-News/WCPO, 10/13).
Under Ohio's 2014-2015 budget (HB 59), signed in 2013, abortion clinics in the state are required to have a patient transfer agreement with a hospital. Clinics are prohibited from making such arrangements with public hospitals.
In addition, Gov. John Kasich (R) recently signed into law a state budget (HB 64) that requires abortion clinics to arrange a patient transfer agreement with a hospital no more than 30 miles away. The budget also includes a provision, which took effect Sept. 29, that requires the state health director to grant or deny a clinic's variance request within 60 days. Clinics unable to obtain a variance within 60 days would be required to close, although they would be permitted to reopen if they obtain approval at a later time. If the clinic's variance request was denied, its operating license would be automatically suspended.
In September, the Ohio Department of Health denied variance requests from the Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio clinic in Cincinnati and the Women's Med Center of Dayton, which are the only remaining clinics in southwest Ohio. The clinics were given 30 days to appeal the decision. The operators of the two clinics also have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the requirements.
Later that month, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett ruled that the clinics could remain open while they appeal the license revocation decision (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/30).
Barrett's latest ruling allows the clinics to remain open as the federal lawsuit moves forward. According to the Journal-News/WCPO, the lawsuit challenging the law will go to trial in 2016.
Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, said, "Today, the court ruled in favor of Ohio women, ensuring access to safe and legal abortion," adding, "This sends an important message to Ohio politicians that their unconstitutional attempts to restrict access to abortion will not stand. Patient safety is our top priority" (Hamilton Journal-News/WCPO, 10/13).