Toledo’s last abortion clinic may close if the Ohio Supreme Court decides to shut the facility down in a court case Tuesday.
Pro-life supporters are calling the hearing to determine whether to close the Capital Care Toledo clinic “the most significant abortion case in state history,” according to The Columbus Dispatch. Tuesday’s hearing comes after state Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed to the high court in 2016, asking it to uphold the state’s ruling and close the clinic. While the court did not issue a direct response to DeWine’s request, it agreed to hear the case.
The state health department ordered the clinic to close in 2014 because it didn’t have the proper patient- transfer agreement to legally allow patients in need of emergency care to be taken from the abortion clinic to the hospital according to ABC News. The clinic sued the state, however, insisting that the agreement placed an undue and unnecessary burden on abortion providers in an effort to prevent them from operating. Capital Care won in Ohio’s lower courts, after judges determined that agreement requirements were unconstitutional and said that the clinic could continue operating while the legal battle remained unresolved.
While the state contends that transfer agreements and mileage limits — Ohio law states that an abortion clinic cannot be more than 52 miles from the hospital with which it has the agreement — are meant to protect the health and safety of the women receiving abortions, abortion advocates say that transfer agreements aren’t medically necessary.
“Local hospitals always accept and treat patients in need of emergency care, as required by federal law — and any hypothetical state interest served by the licensing provisions is far outweighed by the harm these provisions impose on Ohio women,” the abortion clinic’s lawyers wrote in a brief.
The state disagreed and said that the case should be treated “as a straightforward administrative appeal about a surgical clinic that failed to comply with a health-care regulation designed to protect patient health and safety.” DeWine’s office added that hospitals performing any other kind of surgery require certified agreements with the clinics they receive their patients from, and there is no reason why abortion clinics should be exempt.
Judges will hear a second case specifically on the legality of patient-transfer agreements as well as the law that requires doctors to inform pregnant women about the heartbeat of their unborn baby on Sept. 26.
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