October 17, 2013 — Another Ohio abortion clinic risks closure under new state requirements that bar abortion clinics from arranging transfer agreements with publicly funded hospitals, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Marotti, Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/16).
Ohio law requires that ambulatory surgical facilities -- including abortion clinics -- have transfer agreements with local hospitals in the case of emergencies (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/13). In September, provisions in the state budget took effect that require abortion clinics to secure the transfer agreements with private hospitals and prohibit them from making such arrangements with public hospitals, among other restrictions (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/10).
According to the Enquirer, the Women's Med Center in Sharonville, near Cincinnati, is the fifth clinic in the state to face risk of closure this year. Some of those clinics have already closed.
Center for Choice in Toledo closed in June after it was unable to secure a transfer agreement. The city's only other clinic -- part of Capital Care Network -- was unable to renew a contract with the University of Toledo Medical Center after it expired at the end of July because the medical center is publicly funded. The clinic is waiting to hear whether its license will be revoked (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/16). According to the Columbus Dispatch, the facility remains open in the meantime and has appealed the state's closure order, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Two other clinics in the state -- the Cleveland Center for Women's Health and another clinic in Akron -- closed for other violations earlier this year. The state would be left with nine abortion clinics if the facilities currently at risk of closure are shut down, the Dispatch reports (Rowland/Felser, Columbus Dispatch, 10/16).
Women's Med Center's License Threatened
Women's Med Center will lose its license to operate as an ambulatory surgical center unless it responds to allegations by the Ohio Department of Health that the center does not have a transfer agreement within 10 days, according to Robert Jennings, head of the state Health Department's Office of Public Affairs.
Jennings said in an email that the state's director of health in fall 2012 stated his intention to shut down the clinic, and an independent examiner confirmed the director's decision (Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/16).
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said the reduction in clinics is "a good thing." He added that the state has dozens of pregnancy centers, community health centers and other facilities. "Thankfully low income women have many many options in Ohio," he said.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said the state's "move is an abuse of power motivated by pressure from Ohio Right to Life, an anti-choice organization led by Governor (John) Kasich's [R] appointee to the State Medical Board, Mike Gonidakis. Kasich's agenda is clear -- to put politicians in charge of women's personal, private medical decisions by closing every abortion clinic in this state, despite their incredible safety record."
Copeland said the regulations were "a regulatory witch hunt and [are not] about patient safety" (Columbus Dispatch, 10/16).