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Ohio Officials Deny Abortion Clinic's Request for Exemption From Transfer Agreement Rules

Ohio Officials Deny Abortion Clinic's Request for Exemption From Transfer Agreement Rules

June 29, 2015 — The Ohio health director on Thursday denied a request from a local abortion clinic, Women's Med Center in Dayton, for an exemption from the state's transfer agreement requirement, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/26).

Background

Under the state's 2013 budget (HB 59), abortion clinics in the state are required to obtain a transfer agreement with a private hospital. Clinics are prohibited from making such arrangements with public hospitals.

Several clinics have asked the Ohio Department of Health for a variance from the law. Women's Med filed its request two years ago (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/19). According to the AP/Post-Intelligencer, Women's Med said two physicians could provide emergency care for patients (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/26).

Meanwhile, state lawmakers last week approved a compromise budget that includes a provision that would require abortion clinics to arrange a patient transfer agreement with a hospital no more than 30 miles away (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/25). The compromise budget also includes a provision that requires the state health director to grant or deny clinic's variance requests within 60 days (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/26).

The 30-mile patient-transfer provision could affect an abortion clinic in Toledo, Capital Care Network, because it has an agreement with a hospital 50 miles away. Earlier this month, an Ohio judge overturned a 2014 Ohio Department of Health order that would have closed down the clinic because it does not have a transfer agreement with a nearby hospital (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/22).

Decision Details

Ohio Health Director Richard Hodges on Thursday denied Women's Med's request on the grounds that the clinic would not do enough to ensure patient safety.

Hodges said the clinic had 30 days to file a new request. According to the AP/Post-Intelligencer, the clinic could lose its license if it fails to file a new request (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/26).

Editorial Calls on Ohio Gov. To Reject Antiabortion-Rights Budget Provisions

"As they did two years ago, Ohio lawmakers want to use the new state budget to trample on women's constitutional right to safe, legal abortion," a Toledo Blade editorial states.

According to the editorial, if the proposed budget's "medically unsupported anti-abortion provisions become law, they almost certainly would shut down the only clinic that performs abortions in Toledo." The editorial urges Gov. John Kasich (R) to "use his line-item veto to reject these extreme measures," including the budget's transfer-agreement provision.

According to the editorial, "[m]edical authorities overwhelmingly agree that transfer agreements aren't necessary because abortion is one of the safest medical procedures." State lawmakers who oppose abortion rights "know this requirement has no basis in medicine," but they are using it "to shut down abortion clinics across the state," the editorial states.

Further, the editorial notes that state lawmakers are inserting the provision in the state budget to make "irrelevant" a recent court decision to keep the Toledo clinic open. In that decision, a Lucas County judge "argu[ed] that state law is inconsistent with the constitutional right to end an unwanted pregnancy upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, the proposed budget also includes a provision "that would reject requests for variances that permit abortion clinics to stay open if the state does not approve such variances within two months," the editorial continues. According to the editorial, the "new measure could shut down clinics in Dayton and Cincinnati, and make Cincinnati the largest metropolitan area in the country with no abortion provider."

"The governor knows that the General Assembly's anti-abortion extremism is out of step with Ohioans' preferences and with women's constitutional rights," the editorial states. The editorial calls on Kasich to reject the provisions "and affirm women's right to make their own health-care choices" (Toledo Blade, 6/28).