April 1, 2014 — The only abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, has secured a hospital-transfer agreement that might enable it to stay open under a state law, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/28).
University of Michigan Health System officials on Thursday confirmed that they signed an emergency-care transfer agreement with Capital Care Clinic on Jan. 20. The hospital is about 53 miles from the clinic, but Denise Gray-Felder, chief communications officer for the health system, said it considers Toledo to be part of its service area (Harris-Taylor, Toledo Blade, 3/28).
Ohio law requires that ambulatory surgical facilities -- including abortion clinics -- have transfer agreements with local hospitals in the case of emergencies. 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, 10/17/13).
Efforts To Meet Requirement
Terrie Hubbard, owner of Capital Care, approached UM hospital officials after the University of Toledo Medical Center opted not to renew its one-year agreement with the clinic as of July 31, 2013. According to the Toledo Blade, no other private hospital in the region was willing to form an agreement. The Ohio Department of Health revoked the clinic's license and ordered it to close unless it could secure another agreement (Toledo Blade, 3/28).
The department is expected to make a final decision on the matter in June.
At a hearing in Columbus last week, antiabortion-rights activists argued that the UM hospital should not be considered "local."
However, Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio noted that any medical emergency could be handled at Toledo hospitals because they cannot lawfully turn away patients. She added, "This is not an argument about public safety," but a "gotcha game" designed by the Ohio governor's administration to close clinics (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/28).
Hubbard added that there has never been a need for a hospital transfer in the four years she has owned the clinic, nor the eight years before that when she worked there as a registered nurse (Toledo Blade, 3/28).