A Hamilton County judge ruled Friday that the Lebanon Road Surgery Center abortion clinic, also known as the Women’s Med Center of Cincinnati, Ohio, will have to shut down in five days unless it appeals the decision.
The Commons Pleas Court judge, Jerome Metz Jr., said that he doesn’t have the jurisdiction to overturn the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) decision revoking the clinic’s license, thereby forcing it to close. Metz found that Ohio law gives the ODH “sole discretion” in deciding whether clinics are operating under the standards of the law.
In Ohio, ambulatory surgical facilities, including abortion clinics, must have either a transfer agreement with a local hospital or a “variance” exempting it from such an agreement. The Lebanon Road clinic had been operating with a variance for several years until this January, when the ODH director not only denied the clinic’s request to renew its variance but then moved to revoke the clinic’s operating license on the basis of its lack of a variance.
“Closing abortion clinics will not reduce the need for abortion. It will just force women into dangerous circumstances,” Kellie Copeland, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio’s executive director, said in a statement. “Governor Kasich’s witch hunt against Ohio’s medical professionals is reckless and is a clear abuse of his authority as Ohio’s governor.”
The Lebanon Road clinic has up to five days to appeal Judge Metz’s decision, otherwise it will be forced to close. Meanwhile, the clinic has sued the ODH for allegedly revoking its variance and operating license arbitrarily and for political reasons, and the lawsuit will continue even if the clinic closes next week.