Cincinnati, OH (Nov. 14, 2014) – Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio (Planned Parenthood) has filed a federal civil rights suit against the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) opposing efforts to revoke the license for its ambulatory surgical facility (ASF), which provides surgical abortion services. The suit targets both Ohio HB 59, which prohibits public hospitals from entering into written transfer agreements with abortion providers, and the fact that ODH has delayed action on a request for a variance for more than 14 months.
The suit was filed November 10, 2014. On November 12, the Ohio Department of Health agreed to take no action against Planned Parenthood’s license until after the Court rules on Planned Parenthood’s motion for a preliminary injunction. A schedule for deciding the case will be set next week.
Jerry Lawson, CEO of Planned Parenthood said, “We are satisfied with ODH’s decision to take no action until after the court rules. The safety of patients is our number one priority – putting safe and legal abortion out of reach for women in Cincinnati does just the opposite. Planned Parenthood has plans in place to ensure a patient receives care in the exceedingly rare case of an emergency that requires hospital-based care.”
Planned Parenthood Attorney Al Gerhardstein described the situation this way: “First, Ohio requires a written transfer agreement, which Planned Parenthood had with a public hospital until 2013. Then the Ohio legislature prohibits public hospitals from having such agreements with abortion providers. Now ODH is taking action against Planned Parenthood for not having a transfer agreement. This is a Catch-22 totally created by the State and it is unconstitutional. Meanwhile the entire problem would be solved if ODH would approve the Planned Parenthood application for a variance, which has been pending for more than 14 months. We trust that this case has at least focused ODH’s attention on the variance application which meets every requirement in the law.”
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and other sources shows that abortion has more than a 99 percent safety record. Ohio is among a growing list of states drastically restricting access to safe and legal abortion through laws that medical experts agree do not enhance patient health or safety. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) spoke out against these types of restrictions, writing that: “The College opposes such requirements because they improperly regulate medical care and do not improve patient safety or quality of care .… In states with few abortion providers, [these] laws can make abortion essentially inaccessible.”
About Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region
Serving 20 counties in Southwestern Ohio and three in Northern Kentucky, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio strengthens the community by providing access to high quality health care and education that empower people to make informed private decisions about their reproductive lives and sexual health. With seven health centers throughout the region, it is Planned Parenthood’s mission to provide: reproductive health care services to any individual who wants or needs them, to advocate public policies which guarantee each individual's access to services, to advocate individual’s right to privacy and their ability to make reproductive decisions free of coercion, and to provide human sexuality education which enhances the health and well-being of individuals in the community. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region is an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD is represented by Al Gerhardstein and Jennifer Branch of Gerhardstein & Branch and Carrie Flaxman and Jennifer Keighley of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Contact: Al Gerhardstein (513) 659-4765 or Jennifer Branch (513) 535-4123.
November 14, 2014