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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2014

State firm on closing abortion clinic


COLUMBUS — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is standing by its opinion that Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic is not complying with a state law that requires it to have an agreement with a local hospital to transport patients with medical emergencies.

In a legal brief, released to a state hearing officer Wednesday, attorneys for the state shot down arguments that were offered by the Capital Care Network in defense of its transfer agreement with the University of Michigan Medical Center.

Capital Care is fighting to remain open and is contesting a state health department order that it shut down because it does not have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. Earlier this month, Capital Care tried to make its case that the Ann Arbor hospital system, more than 50 miles away, qualifies as a “local” hospital under the new law.

The AG’s office responded to those arguments Wednesday saying, “To find that Capital Care Network has a transfer agreement with a local hospital, the hearing examiner must find that Ann Arbor, Michigan, is local to Toledo, Ohio, for the purposes of transporting a patient needing emergency medical care. Doing so would jeopardize patient safety and would expand the word ‘local’ far beyond the legislative intent and common sense definitions of the word.”

Republican legislators and Gov. John Kasich added language to the state budget last year requiring ambulatory surgical centers, such as abortion clinics, to have emergency-care agreements in place with local hospitals if problems arise that the clinic isn’t equipped to handle. The law also prohibits public hospitals from entering into such an agreement.

Capital Care argued in its brief that in life-threatening situations, the clinic will call 911 and have the patient sent to the nearest Toledo hospital.

The hearing officer is expected to weigh all the arguments and make a recommendation to interim health director Lance Himes in June. Mr. Himes will make the final determination on whether to revoke the clinic’s license.

Capital Care attorney Jennifer Branch said if the state rules against the clinic, owner Terry Hubbard could file an appeal in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

— Marlene Harris-Taylor

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