Judge Suspends Order to Close Haskell Abortion Clinic With Conditions

By Cheryl Sullenger

Cincinnati, OH — Hamilton County Judge Jerome Metz has stayed an order issued by the Ohio Department of Health to close a late-term abortion clinic in Sharonville, Ohio, operated by Martin Haskell.

Judge Metz issued his 3-page ruling today that places conditions on his suspension of the ODH closure order.

“As a condition of that suspension, [Haskell] must maintain adequate safety policies and procedures for admittance of any patient to a hospital as may be needed. In furtherance of that condition, [Haskell] shall report any change in its current procedures or protocols or any change in its back-up doctors to the Court, to the Department of Health, and to the Department’s counsel of record. If it appears that any such change would be substantially detrimental to public safety, the Department may petition to alter or terminate the suspension,” stated the order.

“Today’s stay of the ODH closure order has only continues to place women in danger in spite of the conditions,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “The two current abortionists that have an agreement with Haskell to provide hospital care have dubious safety records laced with multiple malpractice complaints. Women injured by Haskell abortions will only jump from the frying and into the fire, if subjected to treatment by his current back-up doctors.”

Haskell has operated his Lebanon Road Surgical Center abortion clinic, also known as Women’s Med Center, in Sharonville, a suburb of Cincinnati without the required hospital privileges or hospital transfer agreement, a fact that is not contested by either Haskell or the ODH.

Instead, his abortion clinic had been allowed to operate under a variance issued by the ODH allowing him to substitute an agreement with various other physicians to provide hospital care to Haskell’s abortion patients suffering complications that require hospitalization. Haskell’s abortion clinic is not equipped to handle serious abortion complications. It was the revocation of this variance and his operating license that led to the appeal and today’s suspension of the ODH closure order.

Haskell submitted an affidavit in support of his motion to stay the closure order stating that he provided late-term abortions and abortions to poor women. He complained that only one abortion clinic that does not specialized in those abortions would be left in the Cincinnati area.

“It is disgusting to think that Haskell would try to deflect from his lack of emergency safety measures by claiming if he closed, poor women might not get abortions,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “That really exposes his bigotry towards the poor if he thinks poor women not having abortions represents ‘irreparable harm.’”

Haskell obtained a variance in 2011 on the condition that three abortionists agreed to maintained unrestricted admitting privileges.

After two of those abortionists lost hospital privileges, Haskell replaced them with Chandra Gravely and Cindy Hansel. However, Haskell failed to notify the ODH in a timely manner about the personnel change on his transfer agreement, leading an ODH spokesperson to state, “The agency no longer has confidence that this ambulatory surgery facility will take necessary steps to operate in accordance with regulations.”

While Haskell maintains his clinic is safe, Operation Rescue has recently documented four medical emergencies at Haskell’s two Ohio abortion clinics, raising serious concerns for patient safety. The troubled backgrounds of his back-up doctors compound concerns that injured patients will receive adequate treatment.

“The assertion that Haskell has been operating safely is a complete falsehood,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “We have documented one botched abortion after another at his clinics and have the proof that he is hurting women.”

Haskell will continue to operate his Sharonville abortion clinic pending his appeal of ODH’s denial of licensure for his abortion clinic, a process that could take months.

“With the ODH’s determination that Haskell is operating unsafely, we can only expect more injuries to women that could be avoided if Haskel was forced to close as ordered,” said Newman. “The order today makes a mockery of health and safety laws and only serves to continue to place the lives of women at risk.”

[Court documents provided to Operation Rescue by Greater Cincinnati Right to Life.]