Judge: Sharonville abortion clinic must close

A common pleas judge upheld a ruling Friday that means a Sharonville abortion clinic must close.

Judge Jerome Metz Jr. ruled against the Lebanon Road Surgery Center of Sharonville, siding with the Ohio Department of Health's order to shut down the clinic. The common pleas judge said he does not have the jurisdiction to overturn it.

"I was disappointed by the ruling -- I thought that the constitutional argument we made was really strong," attorney Dorothea Langsom said after learning the result of the lawsuit filed Tuesday in a Hamilton County court.

Attorneys for the facility, also known as Women's Med Center, accused the Ohio Department of Health of abusing its regulatory authority by ordering the clinic to close in January.

The state’s health director sent notice to the clinic’s owner, Martin Haskell, Jan. 17 ordering the closure because the clinic doesn’t have a valid transfer agreement with a nearby hospital. Such agreements are required under state law but were made unattainable to abortion clinics in the last state budget.

RELATED: Judge allows Sharonville abortion clinic to stay open
MORE: Sharonville abortion clinic appeals state-ordered shutdown order

Representatives for the clinic have said a proper backup care always has been in place, and that the department ordered the closure for political and arbitrary reasons.

But a Hamilton County magistrate in June sided with the state and ruled the clinic should close.

The ruling is considered a victory for some of those who rallied outside the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas during the proceedings.

"Shutting down Haskell's facility is a long-sought victory for the pro-life movement," said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, part of the Greater Cincinnati coalition of pro-life organizations that gathered Friday.

Jill Bley and dozens of others people outside the courthouse saw the ruling as a major blow to their rights -- and possibly their health.

"These doctors provide safe and legal medical care, they should be allowed to remain open," she said.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, attorneys for the clinic accused the department of abusing its regulatory authority by ordering the clinic to close in January after questioning whether it had followed rules to provide backup care for patients.

In his decision on Friday, Metz also did not extend the stay of execution he approved for the abortion facility during the appeal process. He is the same judge who issued a stay for the clinic to continue operations while it appeals the state’s order through the court system, according to the Journal-News.

The stay expires in five days.

Attorneys for the medical center have until the expiration date of the file an appeal to the First Appellate District Court of Appeals.

Langsom didn't discuss the clinic's legal options or if they plan to file an appeal.

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