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Published: Friday, 8/8/2014

Abortion clinic files appeal of closure order

City’s sole provider vows to stay in operation no matter outcome

Capital Care Network is seeking a judicial order to allow it to remain open past Tuesday. Capital Care Network is seeking a judicial order to allow it to remain open past Tuesday.
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Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic is continuing to fight to remain open.

Capital Care Network’s attorney, Terry Lodge, filed an appeal in Lucas County Common Pleas Court asking for a reversal of an order issued by the Ohio Department of Health that would close the surgical center at the clinic on Tuesday.

The legal documents were filed this week, and the case has been assigned to Judge Myron Duhart.

No hearing date has been set, but Mr. Lodge said he is asking Judge Duhart to issue a temporary stay before Tuesday that would allow the clinic to continue operating while the court hears arguments on the appeal.

“We will be making arguments that the public interest supports keeping the facility open and operating. It is undeniable that there are no health-code violations of any sort that would show this clinic is posing any kind of danger to the public,” Mr. Lodge said.

Melanie Amato, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health, said the department has no comment on the appeal because it is pending litigation.

Lance Himes, interim director, signed the order to revoke the clinic’s license based on a recommendation from a state hearing examiner in June that the clinic be shuttered because it does not hold a valid emergency-care agreement with a local hospital, a requirement of state law.

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.

In the court documents, Capital Care’s attorneys argue that the license was improperly revoked because the clinic did have a written transfer agreement with a hospital. They also stated that the decision is not supported by “substantial evidence.”

The state of Ohio is trying to impose stringent conditions on patient care, which are not supported by any medical or scientific proof, Mr. Lodge said. He added that all hospitals in Toledo would accept any patient that needed care into their emergency department with or without a transfer agreement.

Terri Hubbard, owner of Capital Care, has vowed to stay open and to continue operating Capital Care as a women’s clinic, no matter what happens with the appeal.

The clinic would offer gynecological services as well as abortion counseling, Ms. Hubbard said.

Ohio law requires women to have a consultation visit first, then wait 24 hours before having an abortion, Ms. Hubbard said. The law allows women to have consultations in one place and abortion services in another as long as they can be advised what doctor will perform the procedure, she said.

Four local women have volunteered to drive women to Columbus after the consultation for the surgeries at the Founders Women’s Health Clinic.

Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at mtaylor@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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