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Ohio Tries to Close Cinci’s| Last Abortion Facility

CINCINNATI (CN) - Ohio is trying to revoke the license of the last abortion facility in metropolitan Cincinnati, a federal complaint by Planned Parenthood alleges.

Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region (PPSWO) filed the suit Monday for an injunction against Section 3727.60, enacted last year via budget measure HM 59 to ban abortion clinics from obtaining written transfer agreements with public hospitals.

In Ohio, abortions can "be provided only in ambulatory surgical facilities ('ASFs') that maintain a written transfer agreement ('WTA') with a hospital," the complaint states.

Planned Parenthood says it held the required license for its Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center, "the last remaining ambulatory surgery facility that performs abortions in the metropolitan Cincinnati area," since May 2000.

The WTA that the clinic maintained for many years outlined the process to transfer any clinic patient "experiencing a rare complication requiring hospital-based treatment" to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center or its predecessor, UC Medical College, according to the complaint.

Since UCMC is a public hospital, it terminated its WTA with the Planned Parenthood clinic with the state's new ban scheduled to take effect on Sept. 28, 2013.

Planned Parenthood says the statute allows for a variance, but that the health department has sat on its application for over a year.

"Since receiving notice of the termination of its WTA with UCMC, PPSWO has approached all the local hospitals seeking a WTA, but those hospitals either rejected or ignored PPSWO's requests," the complaint states. "Many of the local hospitals are Catholic institutions with a stated opposition to cooperating in the delivery of abortion services. Thus, PPSWO has been unable to secure a WTA with a non-'public' hospital because of the complete discretion exercised by those hospitals to refuse or ignore PPSWO's requests because of their religious, political, ideological or other preferences."

Planned Parenthood says Richard Hodges, the director of Ohio's Department of Health, has threatened to revoke its medical license, which would force its Cincinnati clinic to shut down.

Should that happen, "Cincinnati will be the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a surgical abortion provider," the complaint says.

"At the beginning of 2013 there were 14 abortion providers in Ohio," the complaint continues. "Today there are only eight abortion providers. Three of the eight remaining clinics are in jeopardy of closing. ODH is in litigation over the license revocation of the last abortion clinic in Toledo, is threatening PPSWO with license revocation proceedings of the last abortion clinic in Cincinnati, and is refusing to rule on the variance and license renewal of the last abortion clinic in Dayton. These actions have been taken to deny Ohio women abortion services, not to protect or promote their health."

Planned Parenthood wants a federal judge to declare the "public hospital ban" unconstitutional, to enjoin the health department from enforcing the statute, and to require that UCMC reinstate its WTA with Planned Parenthood.

The clinic is represented by Alphonse Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein and Branch.

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