COLUMBUS — Today the ACLU of Ohio, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America asked the court to rule for them in a case arguing that Ohio’s Written Transfer Agreement (WTA) Requirement is unconstitutional because it places medically unnecessary, and burdensome requirements on Ohio abortion providers. This requirement mandates that abortion clinics either have a contract with a local hospital, or obtain a variance from that requirement. But the Ohio Department of Health interprets this requirement in an arbitrary, unpredictable, and constantly changing way.
The clinics’ claims do not rest on the rights that disappeared when Roe v. Wade was reversed. Instead, the clinics’ lawsuit is based on other rights under the United States constitution.
The lawsuit was initially filed on September 1, 2015, on behalf of Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio and Women’s Med Dayton.
Statement from leaders from the ACLU of Ohio, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Women’s Med Dayton:
“For years, Ohio lawmakers, as a result of our extremely gerrymandered legislative districts, have undertaken a deliberate campaign to eliminate access to abortion care in Ohio, including through escalating assaults on the last two clinics that perform abortions in Southwest Ohio. By continually moving the goal posts, repeatedly denying variances based on newly minted requirements not contained in any statute or regulation, ODH deprives our clients of fair notice of what is required to obtain a variance. This is unconstitutional.”
In 2013, as a part of the biennial budget bill, House Bill 59 enacted three new provisions that made it difficult or impossible for abortion clinics—already struggling to comply with the WTA rules—to maintain their licenses.
In 2015, as part of the biennial omnibus budget measure, the Ohio Legislature enacted House Bill 64, which immediately and automatically suspends an ASF license 1) if ODH fails to act on a WTA variance application with 60 days, or 2) if ODH denies the ASF’s request for a variance. Because abortion clinics have historically been the only ASFs that are unable to obtain a written transfer agreement with a hospital, and so must seek WTA variances, HB 64 functionally singles out abortion clinics.
The provisions of HB 59 and HB 64 violate the right to due process under the United States constitution because they endow private parties with standardless, unreviewable authority.