October 29, 2019

DAYTON, Ohio — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and attorney Jennifer Branch sought an emergency court order today on behalf of Women’s Med Center, the last clinic in the Dayton area. The motion seeks to block a restriction that has forced the clinic to stop providing surgical abortions.

The law requires abortion clinics to have a written patient-transfer agreement with a local hospital — which advocates say is medically unnecessary and designed to close clinics and cut off abortion access. Women’s Med Center has been forced to stop providing surgical abortion care, and will not be able to resume providing that care unless the court grants Women’s Med Center’s motion or the state grants Women’s Med Center’s license.

Elizabeth Watson, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said: “Abortion is already extremely safe and the challenged restrictions do nothing to make abortion safer that it already is. The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is using these medically unnecessary abortion restrictions to try to close a clinic that provides critical care to patients in the Dayton area, which is unconstitutional, unwarranted, and cruel.”

“It’s imperative that rapid relief be procured so that the clinic may continue providing its crucial services to Ohio patients in need,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio.

Cincinnati attorney Jennifer Branch, who has represented Women’s Med Center for over 20 years, shared her disappointment that the Department of Health has not yet issued the clinic a license. “Women’s Med has been licensed since 2008, and has safely operated for decades prior to that without the need for a license,” she said. “In June, when a fourth doctor stepped up to admit patients to a hospital if the need arose, we thought ODH would grant the license. We are hopeful the federal court judge will keep the clinic open while ODH makes its decision on the license.”

“Ohio is among a growing list of states drastically restricting access to safe and legal abortion through laws that medical experts agree do not enhance patient health or safety,” said Kersha Deibel, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio President and CEO. “Patient safety is our number one priority and abortion is an extremely safe procedure. This is not about patient safety. The whole purpose of these requirements is to make it impossible for abortion providers to operate in Ohio and make it impossible for people to access safe, legal abortion. Planned Parenthood is here and available for those who need care as Women’s Med Center awaits further legal reprieve.”

Ohio, like several states, has tried to push abortion out of reach by passing multiple restrictions on abortion that are not medically necessary, including the restriction challenged in this case. These restrictions are on top of Ohio laws that attempt to ban abortion, which have been blocked by courts. 

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