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Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart today issued a stay that will allow Capital Care, Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic, to continue operating while it appeals a directive from the Ohio Health Department to shut down.
The abortion clinic had been ordered by state health officials to close its surgical center by Tuesday. Lance Himes, interim director of the Ohio health department revoked the clinic’s license because it does not hold a valid emergency-care agreement with a local hospital, a requirement of state law.
Attorneys for the clinic argued in court documents that closing the clinic while it appeals the state's decision would cause harm to the local community because “Thousands of women depend upon Capital Care for safe pregnancy termination services each year, however, if the state forces Capital Care to close its doors, women in the Toledo area will have to cross the border to Michigan or travel hours away to Cleveland or Columbus.”
Melanie Amato, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, said last week the department has no comment on the appeal because it is pending litigation.
The two-year state budget passed last year required ambulatory surgical centers to make agreements with hospitals to transfer patients if complications arise. Lawmakers then went a step further by requiring that agreement to be with a “local” hospital, without defining what that meant.
The University of Toledo Medical Center chose not to renew its agreement with Capital Care as of July 31, 2013.
The state budget later prohibited public hospitals such as UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, from entering into such agreements.
The clinic struggled for months to find a hospital with which to partner before entering into an agreement in January with the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor — more than 50 miles away — to provide emergency care in case of complications with any of its patients.
The first hearing date for the appeal before Judge Duhart is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 4.