Cincinnati Planned Parenthood Clinic to Stay Open

Cincinnati’s last remaining women’s clinic that provides abortions will remain open until at least May, following a last-minute decision by the Ohio Department of Health to grant it a license.

Cincinnati’s last remaining women’s clinic that provides abortions will remain open until at least May, following a last-minute decision by the Ohio Department of Health to grant it a license.

The decision is the latest in a long-running series of events that has at times brought Mount Auburn’s Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center to the brink of closure.

Back in September, the ODH denied the Planned Parenthood facility’s request for a variance to rules requiring clinics to have transfer agreements with nearby hospitals. That move could have shut the clinic down, but an ensuing federal court injunction kept it open. If the Mount Auburn clinic closes, Cincinnati could become the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to abortion services. Another clinic in Sharonville shut down last year after it was denied a variance.

On Nov. 27, the ODH approved the Mount Auburn clinic’s second request for a variance on the last day of a 60-day deadline stipulated by new state laws. That request listed four doctors with individual admitting privileges at local hospitals. The clinic’s previous request listed three. The center’s variance is good until May 31, 2016.

The clinic’s struggles have come in the wake of new Ohio laws passed during recent years that place strict limits on clinics performing abortions. State laws stipulate that such clinics must have admitting privileges at local hospitals, but also forbid state-funded hospitals from entering into those agreements.

In September, state lawmakers added even more restrictions, requiring that the ODH respond to license-renewal requests within 60 days of receiving them. If it doesn’t, the requests are automatically denied.

Lawmakers say the laws are designed to ensure safety for women, but Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice advocates say they’re all about politics.

Planned Parenthood has faced criticism recently after a pro-life group released a series of heavily edited videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue for research. The Center for Medical Progress, which made the videos, says they show the sale of fetal organs, but Planned Parenthood says the videos have been manipulated and that officials are simply discussing handling fees for the tissue.

Though Ohio clinics do not donate tissue for medical research, state lawmakers in October voted to strip funding for medical testing and other non-abortion services from Planned Parenthood in the aftermath of those videos.

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