- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - A suburban abortion clinic that had been allowed to remain open while fighting a state order to close must stop operating unless it files an appeal or other legal action.

A Hamilton County judge ruled Friday that he doesn’t have the jurisdiction to change the Ohio Department of Health order closing the Lebanon Road Surgery Center of Sharonville.

The Health Department ordered the clinic closed in January after questioning whether it followed rules to provide backup care for patients. The clinic argued that proper backup care always has been in place and the closure stemmed from political and arbitrary reasons.

Judge Jerome Metz Jr. of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court had allowed the clinic to remain open the past few months while it appealed the state order.

The clinic’s attorney said Friday that it is considering options, including appealing Metz’s decision or possibly asking for a stay of the clinic’s closure through another lawsuit.

“Unless another judge issues a stay, the clinic would be forced to close,” said the clinic’s attorney, Dorothea Langsam.

Health Department spokeswoman Shannon Libby said Friday that the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Clinics in Ohio that perform abortions must have a transfer agreement with a local hospital that says the hospital will accept patients from the clinic if necessary. The clinic in Sharonville doesn’t have such an agreement, but it had been operating for the past few years - with the department’s approval - under an exception that allowed it to use backup doctors who can admit patients to hospitals.

But the Health Department revoked the clinic’s license after determining that the clinic could no longer operate under that exception.

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