This Clinic Stays Open… But For How Long?

We’ve got some good news and some bad news.

THE GOOD NEWS: On Friday, Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart ruled in favor of Capital Care Network (CCN). After a year-long court battle with the state regarding the legality of CCN’s transfer agreement with University of Michigan Hospital, Judge Duhart ordered Friday that Toledo’s last abortion clinic remain open.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case, the Kasich administration has been trying to shut down the clinic for a while, claiming the University of Michigan hospital is not close enough. The Columbus Dispatch explains the case’s background pretty well:

Nearly a year ago, the Ohio Department of Health ordered the clinic to close. Ohio law mandates that abortion clinics operate under a transfer agreement with a local, private hospital, or risk their license. Previously, the clinic had an agreement with the public University of Toledo Medical Center until it was barred from doing so in 2013 because of a provision put in the state budget that year.”

”In January 2014, Capital Care Network was able to get a transfer agreement with University of Michigan’s hospital, which is 50 miles away. Since then, anti-abortion activists claim it’s operated outside of the state’s law because the hospital wasn’t Ohio-based.”

”Since 2013, five abortion clinics have closed in the state. Eight — including the Capital Care Network — remain.”
— Columbus Dispatch, 6/19/15

In his ruling, Judge Duhart begins by noting, “It is now well-established in this country that ‘it is a constitutional liberty of the woman to have some freedom to terminate her pregnancy."

Later in the ruling, he states, “In this case, the Court finds that the state has exceeded its constitutional authority in applying to Capital Care the current statutory scheme for licensing abortion centers… Unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right."

Regarding transfer agreements: "The power to prohibit licensure may not constitutionally be placed in the hands of hospitals."

After the Judge Duhart's ruling was announced, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio released the following statement:

Despite all the back-door deals, and shady maneuvering, [Governor] John Kasich and [Attorney General] Mike DeWine have failed in their crusade to effectively outlaw abortion in Toledo. This is great news for Toledo’s women and we congratulate Attorney Jennifer Branch, and the staff at Capital Care Network on their court victory today.”

“The Ohio legislature and John Kasich ought to read Judge Duhart’s ruling carefully. They should remove the provisions that they added at the 11th hour that target abortion clinics in the currently proposed budget. These measures are also likely to be found to violate the due process rights of abortion providers and be found unconstitutional. It’s time for Kasich and DeWine to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on their personal quest to outlaw abortion.”
— Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, 6/19/15

The reaction from us here at CCN has been one of mixed emotions. On one hand, we are grateful to Judge Duhart and everyone who has supported us every step of the way. This was a huge win that we fought incredibly hard for. But the struggle is far from over. 

"I really cannot express how elated I am to say with confidence that northwest Ohio can continue to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women,” said Marlena Ainslie, spokesperson for Capital Care Network of Toledo. "This is far from the first and will certainly not be the last battle for the clinic, but [this ruling] says that Toledo has brave citizens, attorneys, activists, and at least one brave judge who believe in choice and rights for women."

This is where THE BAD NEWS comes in. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office told The Columbus Dispatch that the state plans to appeal the Lucas County court’s ruling. That means the legal battle will continue, which in turn means that more taxpayer funds will be spent by the state to defend unconstitutional abortion restrictions that would ultimately shut down CCN and other abortion clinics across Ohio.

On top of that, Ohio Right to Life has stated they will “fight like hell” to add and keep anti-abortion provisions in the state’s budget bill that would close CCN, as well as abortion clinics in Dayton and Cincinnati.

So the battle to keep abortion safe and legal in Ohio continues and we can’t fight it alone. We need pro-choice members of the community like you to help out in the following ways:

1. Contact ProMedica’s Toledo Hospital and urge them to sign a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network.

While Judge Duhart upheld CCN’s current transfer agreement with University of Michigan, there’s a chance that Ohio’s legislature could pass additional legislation that would limit transfer agreements to hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic. At this point, a transfer agreement with ProMedica would ensure that CCN is safe no matter what the legislature does (with regard to ASF transfer agreement laws).

2. Contact Attorney General Mike DeWine & Governor John Kasich.

Send a tweet, post on Facebook, send an email, make a phone call... whatever method you choose, make sure to tell Kasich and DeWine that you DO NOT approve of them wasting tax payer dollars to defend anti-abortion laws that have already been ruled unconstitutional by Lucas County Judge Duhart.

Amanda Patton