By Dave Andrusko
On Monday, citing a “continuing assault on the right of women to exercise reproductive freedom,” Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of Ohio.
The lawsuit asks federal judge Timothy S. Black to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent state health officials from ordering the closure of the clinic because it lacks a transfer agreement with a local hospital.
The abortion clinic’s lawsuit charges that the Ohio Department of Health “has followed a deliberate strategy of reducing access to abortion services in Ohio by imposing and enforcing regulations that do not promote women’s health.”
But all ambulatory surgical centers are required to have such an agreement. As of last September abortion clinics were prohibited from making these arrangements with public hospitals.
As National Right to Life News Today reported, in mid-October the Ohio Department of Health sent Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s surgical abortion facility, the Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center, a letter saying the clinic was not in compliance. Planned Parenthood spokesman Rick Pender told The Enquirer’s Chrissie Thompson that it placed a request for a “variance” (an exemption) from the requirement more than a year ago and has not received a response.
“We have received the letter, and it is accurate in its statement that we do not have a transfer agreement,” Pender told Thompson. “But what we have pending, for more than a year, is our variance request, which the health department has not acted on.”
The experience of the Lebanon Road Surgery Center of Sharonville, Ohio may explain the lawsuit. (Sharonville is less than a half-hour away from Cincinnati.)
The abortion clinic was owned by notorious abortionist Martin Haskell. In August Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jerome Metz Jr. ruled that it is the Ohio Department of Health’s “sole discretion” whether it gives a variance to the requirement that abortion clinics have a transfer agreement.
Surprisingly, Haskell did not appeal. The Sharonville clinic was the only one for hundreds of miles that performed late abortions.