Abortion clinic seeks court order, new license to stay open

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Dayton area’s last abortion clinic is trying to avoid closure by pursuing a new state license and intervention by a federal court after the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday again refused to hear its appeal.

The state court’s decision meant Women’s Med Center faced losing its license as an ambulatory surgical facility because it didn’t meet certain Ohio requirements about hospital transfers and agreements with doctors who could help facilitate hospital care in an emergency.

It quickly asked a federal court to temporarily block the state from enforcing those requirements and stripping its license. It argues the requirements are unconstitutional, medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion access.

The center in Kettering has postponed surgical abortions but remains open for medication abortions as its yearslong legal fight continues, attorney Jennifer Branch said.

Anticipating the state court’s rejection of the appeal, the clinic also already had applied for a new state license and lined up an additional, fourth backup doctor who could admit patients to a hospital for care if needed, Branch said.

The clinic was told it needed arrangements with four such doctors as an alternative because it hasn’t been able to get a written patient-transfer agreement with a local hospital as required by state law, she said.

The Ohio Department of Health wouldn’t comment on the pending litigation. The state health director, Dr. Amy Acton, signed off on the alternative arrangement involving the backup doctors but noted that is just one part of the license application that is still under review, according to a Friday letter to Branch from Acton.

Branch said she anticipates the federal court will rule quickly on the clinic’s request for a temporary restraining order.