Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Kentucky, Ohio fight to keep abortion center regulations

Abortion | Lawsuits in both states challenge hospital transfer and ambulance service agreements
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 9/11/17, 01:22 pm

A Kentucky court case may determine whether the state’s remaining abortion center must close due to regulatory violations.

In a trial that began last Wednesday, state health regulators and pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin faced off against the owners of a Louisville abortion center, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, over the state’s claim the facility doesn’t have satisfactory transfer agreements with a hospital or ambulance service for patients suffering medical emergencies.

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services sent a letter to the abortion center in March saying it didn’t comply with state regulations. Officials gave the center 10 days to fix the problem or lose its license and shut down.

The center responded by filing a lawsuit claiming the letter came “out of the blue.” Lawyers say the center has had a hospital agreement and an ambulance agreement on file with the state for years.

Amanda Stamper, the governor’s communications director, told me that the state requirements have gone unchallenged since their implementation 19 years ago. But she didn’t specify the center’s violations.

“[The requirements] are important measures for ensuring women have the proper life-saving procedures in place in the event of an emergency,” Stamper said. “Essentially all healthcare facilities in Kentucky are required to have such agreements, and it is telling that the abortion industry believes that it alone should be exempt from these important safety measures.”

After the suit, a judge quickly issued a temporary restraining order, allowing the abortion center to remain open while the case proceeded.

The suit cites last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which nixed a Texas law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and abortion facilities to meet ambulatory surgical center standards. The decision triggered multiple lawsuits against pro-life laws across the country, including regulations in Missouri and Louisiana.

Earlier this year, Bevin signed both a ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation and a requirement that abortionists show women ultrasound images of their babies and have them listen to their babies’ heartbeats before abortions. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the ultrasound requirement, a case still pending in the courts.

Regulators in Ohio also are embroiled in a legal battle with an abortion center over its hospital transfer agreement requirements. Toledo abortion center Capital Care Network filed suit against the state in 2014 over a law barring public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion centers and requiring local transfer agreements.

The center lost its license after its agreement with the University of Toledo Hospital didn’t qualify, and its subsequent agreement with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor was too far away. Lower courts sided twice with Capital Care Network.

But the Ohio Department of Health appealed to the state’s Supreme Court in May, and a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. 

Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis called the upcoming legal showdown “arguably the most important pro-life case in our state’s history.”

Capital Care Network is the last remaining abortion center in the Toledo area.

Creative Commons/American Life League Creative Commons/American Life League David Daleiden

Daleiden, lawyers fined over banned video release

Pro-life activist David Daleiden and his attorneys now face nearly $200,000 in fines after the lawyers posted online an undercover video banned by a court order. 

The video, which lawyers for Daleiden insist they had the right to post, featured Lisa Harris, the medical director of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, admitting that abortion amounts to murder.

“Given that we actually see the fetus the same way, and given that we might actually both agree that there’s violence in here, let’s just give them all the violence,” Harris said, referring to pro-life activists. “It’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that.”

Federal District Court Judge William Orrick of San Francisco ordered YouTube to remove the video and slapped Daleiden and attorneys Steve Cooley and Bretford Ferrreira with a $195,359.04 fine to cover attorney fees, travel expenses, lost work, and even photocopying costs claimed by Planned Parenthood employees. 

Daleiden’s lawyers already appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Orrick’s gag order covering hours of video shot by Daleiden and other activists with the Center for Medical Progress. Matthew Geragos, representing Daleiden’s attorneys, now plans to appeal the fine. —S.G.

Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

Pro-life attorneys general demand video’s release

While David Daleiden and his attorneys fight their fine, 20 state attorneys general have joined the appeal to release undercover footage taken by the Center for Medical Progress at two National Abortion Federation conferences. 

Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, joined by attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court last Thursday.

The videos under injunction by Judge William Orrick amount to hundreds of hours of footage. Daleiden previously told me those videos include some of the most “incriminating footage that I ever recorded.” —S.G.

California judge questions teen’s brain death diagnosis

Jahi McMath may not be brain dead after all. A California Superior Court judge ruled last week that the teen’s family raises legitimate questions about whether her condition “satisfies the statutory definition of ‘dead’ under the Uniform Determination of Death Act.” 

Doctors declared McMath legally brain dead in 2013 after she suffered complications following a complex nose, throat, and mouth surgery. Her family fought to keep her on life support and are suing UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland for damages. If the court rules McMath legally dead, her family is only entitled to $250,000, the maximum allowed under California law for children who die as a result of surgery. But if the court determines McMath is legally alive, the hospital could be forced to pay much more. 

McMath lives with her mother in an Oakland apartment, where machines enable her to breathe and eat. In issuing his ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stephen Pulido relied heavily on videos showing McMath moving fingers and other extremities on command. —Leigh Jones

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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