By Dave Andrusko
On a 5-2 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday upheld a state order to close Capital Care Network, Toledo’s lone abortion clinic, for failing to secure an emergency patient transfer agreement with a local hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. The justices also rejected a challenge by Preterm, Cleveland’s largest abortion facility, agreeing with the trial court that Preterm lacked standing and was not injured by any provisions of the regulation.
The decision overturned two lower courts—the Lucas County Common Pleas Court and the Sixth District Court of Appeals—which sided with Capital Care Network. They’d concluded the regulation was an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion access.
When the Capital Care Network case was heard last September, Ohio Right to Life said
Capital Care, Toledo’s last abortion facility, has been violating state law and regulations for years, putting women’s lives at risk.
The abortion clinic attempted to skirt Ohio laws by sending women who are suffering from abortion complications 52 miles away to Ann Arbor. The Ohio Department of Health has consistently determined that this course of action was unacceptable. Should the Department of Health succeed before the Ohio Supreme Court, greater Toledo will arguably be abortion free.
The Capital Care Network case had gone on for years and went up and down the legal chain. In 2013, after the University of Toledo Medical Center did not renew its transfer agreement with the abortion clinic, Capital Care Network went five months without an agreement before finally negotiating one with a University of Michigan Health System hospital which is 52 miles away in Ann Arbor.
In 2014, the clinic’s license was revoked by the Ohio Department of Health “because transporting a patient to Ann Arbor would take longer than the department’s 30-minute standard.”
The Toledo Blade’s Jim Provance observed that Justice Terrence O’Donnell, who wrote the majority opinion,
said Capital Care owner Terrie Hubbard admitted Capital Care lacked a written transfer agreement with a hospital between August 1, 2013, and January 20, 2014. She also testified, although a helicopter could be used to transfer patients 52 miles to the Ann Arbor hospital, the clinic had no contract with an air-ambulance provider to ensure that one would be available when needed, Justice O’Donnell wrote.
“Even if one were available, she admitted it could take an hour for it to reach her facility before flying another 15 to 20 minutes to Ann Arbor,” he wrote.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland bashed pro-life Gov. John Kasich’s “anti-abortion agenda,” adding, “Today’s politically-motivated decision is devastating to women who can’t afford to leave town, who can’t find childcare for an extended time, or can’t pay for the increased costs that come with delayed care.”
Following today’s decision, Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said he
is grateful that a super majority of the Supreme Court agreed that this abortion clinic’s so-called safety proposal was preposterous at best. Clearly, the abortion clinic callously disregarded the health and safety of women with a ridiculous proposal to fly women out of state for emergency medical attention. The Court, like our pro-life government, got it right.
Now that this issue is settled, Ohio Right to Life expects that this abortion clinic in Toledo will be closed immediately by the Ohio Department of Health.
Justice O’Donnell was joined by Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat Fischer, Pat DeWine, and Judith French.