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Ohio Supreme Court affirms order to shut down abortion clinic for violating state law

(Wikimedia Commons/Analogue Kid)The Ohio Supreme Court is featured in this image.

The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a 2014 state order to shut down Toledo's last remaining abortion clinic for failing to comply with state laws.

The state had revoked the license of Capital Care Network of Toledo in 2014, saying it is in violation of a 21-year-old rule that required all ambulatory surgical facilities to have written hospital agreements to facilitate emergency treatment.

According to Cleveland.com, the high court ruled 5-2 on Tuesday to overturn lower court rulings that declared state restrictions on abortion clinics were unconstitutional, but the court did not issue a decision regarding the constitutionality of the law.

The University of Toledo Medical Center had declined to renew its transfer agreement with Capital Care in 2013, and no such agreement was in place until the facility negotiated its 2014 agreement with the University of Michigan Health System.

However, the Ohio Department of Health rejected the 2014 agreement under its rule because the Ann Arbor, Michigan, location was too far away to accommodate emergency treatment.

In a majority opinion written by Justice Terrence O'Donnell, the court contended that the ODH's decision to revoke Capital Care's health facility license was supported by "reliable, probative, and substantial evidence and is in accordance with law."

After losing its license, Capital Care sued the state, arguing that the 2013 law barring clinics from acquiring license agreements with a public hospital created an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

Two lower courts had agreed with the abortion facility and ruled that the state's transfer agreement law, which was included in the state's budget bill, had violated the state constitution's single-subject rule.

The state's high court had declined to consider the constitutional issues, but O'Donnell noted in his opinion that the lower courts did not examine the authority of ODH to revoke the license for violating the rule.

In a dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor contended that Capital Care had complied with the ODH rule, adding that only the statutory provision, which was newly implemented in 2013, required a transfer agreement with a "local" hospital.

O'Connor contended that the new provision was the basis for the license revocation and required the high court to consider the constitutional challenges. The dissenting chief justice had concluded that the new laws were unconstitutional.

In a separate case, the high court ruled that the Cleveland abortion facility Preterm did not have the legal standing to sue the state over the 2013 law because it had failed to prove that it suffered or was threatened with "direct and concrete injury" from the law.

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