By Dave Andrusko
On February 6, the Ohio Supreme Court 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. Justice O’Donnell was joined by Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat Fischer, Pat DeWine, and Judith French in the 5-2 decision.
Today without comment, the state’s highest court unanimously said no to a motion from the Toledo clinic asking the court to reconsider its prior decision.
The February verdict 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.
Capital Care Network told the Toledo Blade’s Jim Provance that while it will continue to perform chemical abortions, for now at least it is out of the surgical business.
However its Cincinnati-based attorney Jennifer Branch told Provance
“On March 13, we applied for a new license. … That is still pending.
Our hope is that ODH [Ohio Department of Health] will process that
license quickly, and if they do, this would just be a delay in abortion services, not a complete termination.”
In the meanwhile, Branch said, while no surgical abortions appointments had been made for today or tomorrow, “patients are being notified that their surgical abortions have been cancelled.”
The back-and-forth has been incredibly complicated, as NRL News Today has explained in multiple stories.
When the Capital Care Network case was heard last September, Ohio Right to Life explained
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.
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In 2014, the clinic’s license was revoked by the Ohio Department of Health “because transporting a patient to Ann Arbor would take longer than the department’s 30-minute standard.”
Back in February Provance observed that Ohio Supreme Court 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.
Following today’s decision, Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, issued a statement in which he said, “Ohio Right to Life calls on the Ohio Department of Health to move forward and enforce its original revocation order against Capital Care Network. Capital Care Network owes an enormous fine of $40,000 to the state of Ohio, based upon repeated violations of state law. The original Ohio Department of Health order remains in effect and in order to reopen, this abortion facility must reapply for a license and pay its fine before aborting anymore children.”