Judge reverses Ohio Department of Health order revoking license of Toledo’s lone abortion clinic

By Dave Andrusko

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart

When last we reported on Capital Care Network, Toledo, Ohio’s only remaining abortion clinic, it had filed an appeal in Lucas County Common Pleas Court asking the courts to reverse an order issued by the Ohio Department of Health that revoked its license to operate as an ambulatory surgical facility. The case was assigned to Judge Myron Duhart.

Unfortunately, on Friday, Judge Duhart ruled (according to the AP)

“that the state exceeded its regulatory authority over Capital Care Network of Toledo.” For now Capital Care Network remains open.

Attorney General Mike DeWine said his office would appeal.

The case has a lengthy history. What follows is a brief overview.

Last year William J. Kepko, an Ohio Department of Health hearing examiner, ruled the state’s decision to revoke the clinic’s license as an ambulatory surgical center was valid. That conclusion upheld two decisions by former Health Director Ted Wymyslo.

As we wrote at the time, the final word, rested with Lance D. Himes, the department’s acting director. (Himes served as legal counsel to Dr. Wymyslo, when he issued his original license revocation order.)

In late July, Mr. Himes signed an order revoking Capital Care Network’s license, effective August 12, 2014. The West Sylvania Avenue clinic then filed an appeal and requested that a court stay the order pending that appeal.

In Ohio, to perform abortions, a clinic must qualify as an ambulatory surgical facility (ASF). ASFs must have agreements with a local hospital to transfer patients if complications arise.

Capital Care Network had a one-year arrangement with the University of Toledo Medical Center, but UTMC exercised its option not to renew, effective July 1, 2013. Unable to find an Ohio hospital, the abortion clinic signed an agreement with the Ann Arbor hospital, effective in January 2014.

“State law doesn’t define ‘local,’ but the state’s health director at the time, Dr. Ted Wymyslo, determined that the University of Michigan Health System, about 53 miles away, doesn’t qualify,” Jim Provance of the Toledo Blade wrote.

As a backup strategy, Capital Care Network took the position that a transfer agreement is not really needed. In situations not considered serious emergencies, the clinic will employ a helicopter, clinic owner Terri Hubbard said.

In situations that are a true emergency, “they will be transferred to the local hospital because 911 will transport to the closest hospital to the center,” said Jennifer Branch, the clinic’s Cincinnati attorney.