Ohio Appeals Court Deemed Abortion Restrictions Unconstitutional

[image-1]An Ohio state court of appeals ruled that regulations controlling Capital Care Network, the last remaining of the previous three Toledo abortion clinics, were unconstitutional.

The case goes back to 2014, when Capital Care sued the state after the Ohio Department of Health rejected a written transfer agreement it had negotiated with the University of Michigan Health System, saying it did not meet the state's requirements.

According to state provisions approved in the state budget in 2013, a hospital must be located within 30 miles of an abortion clinic. The U of M Health System and Capital Care facilities were 50 miles away from each other. 

Capital Care's argument against the state said that the regulation placed an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion access, that it unconstitutionally delegated state authority to outside parties and that the initial enactment in the state budget violated the Ohio Constitution.

In June 2015, the trial court decided in favor of Capital Care, that the licensing provisions the state enacted were unconstitutional because the provisions contain "unconstitutional delegations of licensing authority". The ODH appealed this decision, resulting in the decision made by the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals on Friday.

The court ruled that the state law approved in the 2013 budget assessment, that clinics were required to have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital, was "an undue burden on a woman's right to have access to an abortion".

Using the standard set by the US Supreme Court decision on a Texas law earlier this summer, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the court weighed the burden placed on patients seeking abortions against the health benefits of a regulation to determine whether an undue burden exists.

The statement released by the court said that the SCOTUS decision on the Texas law affirmed the district court's finding and there was an undue burden. 

Finally, the court decision found that the budget bill violated the single-subject rule and could not touch on licensing requirements for clinics while being connected to the appropriation of money as well.

"The U.S. Supreme Court said if an abortion restriction is burdensome and does not improve care, then it is unconstitutional. Ohio's transfer agreement requirements for abortion providers are burdensome and medically unnecessary," Kellie Copeland, the executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio told Cleveland.com.  "Today's ruling is a common-sense decision, and protects the health of women across Northwest Ohio."