COLUMBUS: A Cincinnati abortion clinic can continue operating for six months despite not having a required transfer agreement with a nearby hospital for emergencies under Friday’s decision from the state.

The variance for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio was granted because it named four physicians to provide backup care in lieu of having a hospital transfer agreement, Department of Health Director Richard Hodges told the facility’s attorney in a letter.

Facility spokeswoman Danielle Craig said her organization still challenges the legality of the agreement requirement and other recent changes in state law.

The number of Ohio abortion providers has dropped in recent years as state lawmakers passed restrictive laws. The state required that surgical facilities in a certain category have agreements with nearby hospitals to take patients in an emergency, but also blocked public hospitals from entering these agreements.

“We continue to believe that the requirement of a written transfer agreement, the prohibition of public hospitals working with abortion providers and the variance requirement is unconstitutional because it places an undue burden on women seeking safe and legal abortion,” Craig said.

Another law suspends a facility’s license if a variance request isn’t granted within 60 days. Friday marked the end of that window for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.