Judge Who is Ex Planned Parenthood Board Member Won’t Hear Case on Closing Abortion Biz

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 17, 2014   |   3:56PM   |   Washington, DC

District Court Judge Timothy Black has recused himself from hearing a case about whether an Ohio Planned Parenthood abortion business must close down.

An Ohio Planned Parenthood abortion business has been put on notice by state officials that it needs to comply with a pro-life law the legislature approved to protect women’s health or it will be forced to close. Responding to the threat from the state health department, the abortion center has filed suit.

Recently, Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facility, the Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center, was cited by the Ohio Department of Health for failure to obtain a transfer agreement. Such agreements, which help protect women who are victimized by botched abortions, are required by an Ohio Right to Life legislative initiative signed into law last summer.

judgetimothyblackThe citation from the Ohio health department serves as a warning that the facility, which as of this summer is Cincinnati’s last abortion clinic, could be shut down.

However, Federal Court Judge Timothy Black, who formally served on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati, was appointed to hear the lawsuit. because of his prior connection with the abortion company, pro-life groups called on him to step down.

“We are calling on Judge Black to recuse himself from this case because of his prior involvement as a Planned Parenthood board member and president. It is wrong for him to sit in judgment of a case brought by an organization with which he has been so deeply involved,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati informed LifeNews over the weekend that Judge Black has indeed recused himself.

“Conflict of interest was clear in this assignment, because Judge Black is not only a former Director and President of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati, but has also served as the organization’s attorney,” the group said.

“We can only hope after all this notoriety that the law requiring abortion ambulatory surgical facilities to have a transfer agreement with a private-only hospital will be judged on its merits,” said Paula Westwood, Executive Director, Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “At the very least we can expect a judge with no ties to Planned Parenthood to hear the case.”

Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati has published a questionnaire completed by Judge Black that was submitted upon his nomination bu Pres. Barack Obama to the Federal bench that identifies his involvement with Planned Parenthood. On page three, the questionnaire states that Black served from 1986-1989 as a Director of Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati, which later morphed into Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region. In 1988, Black served as president of the organization’s Board of Directors.

Abortion attorney Jennifer Branch filed the lawsuit against Richard Hodges, Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati tells LifeNews that the case is filed in protest of the Ohio law requiring abortion providing ambulatory surgical facilities to have a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital to cover patient emergencies. Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio cannot obtain a transfer agreement from any area hospital, and is thus seeking a variance (exception) to have doctors with privileges at The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati–David Schwartz, Michael Draznik, and Tari Anderson–to cover patient emergencies.

“By law, granting a variance to the transfer agreement requirement is entirely up to the discretion of the director of the Ohio Department of Health,” said Paula Westwood, Executive Director, Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “This case presumes that Planned Parenthood is entitled to this special preference simply by submitting a request.”

Mike Gonidakis, the head of Ohio Right to Life, talked with LifeNews about the lawsuit, which also names UC Health.

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“Ohio law is clear that our tax dollars cannot support abortion. UC Health is a publicly funded hospital and pro-life taxpayers should not be forced to fund the abortion industry,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, in an email. “What amazes me is that no other hospital in the greater Hamilton County area chooses to do business with Planned Parenthood. If Ohio’s health care industry rejects the abortion industry, why can’t Ohioans?”

He added: “There are other abortion clinics in the state who area able to operate under the confines of the law so why should Planned Parenthood receive special treatment.  The US Supreme Court in a recent opinion was not willing to opine that traveling a specific number of miles to have an abortion was “unconstitutional.”   Sadly, any woman in Ohio can travel less than two hours from their home to have an abortion.  Roe v. Wade did not guarantee an abortion clinic on every street corner.”

Branch recently lost her bid for election as judge for Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. Judges for this division have influence whether judicial bypass is granted to minor girls seeking abortions without parental consent. She has also served as attorney for notorious late-term abortionist, Martin Haskell.