July 17, 2015 — An Ohio clinic is seeking a third physician for emergency care to meet antiabortion-rights legislation in the state amid a campaign by abortion opponents targeting the clinic's ob-gyns, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Carr Smyth, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16).
State TRAP Requirements
Under Ohio's 2013 budget (HB 59), abortion clinics in the state are required to have a patient transfer agreement with a hospital. Clinics are prohibited from making such arrangements with public hospitals.
Further, Gov. John Kasich (R) recently signed into law a state budget (HB 64) that requires abortion clinics to arrange a patient transfer agreement with a hospital no more than 30 miles away. In addition, the budget includes a provision that requires the state health director to grant or deny a clinic's variance request within 60 days. Clinics unable to obtain a variance within 60 days would be required to close, although they would be permitted to reopen if they obtain approval at a later time (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/16).
Clinic Seeking Variance
Women's Med Center in Dayton filed a variance request from the 2013 requirements two years ago (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/7). The clinic has contended that the two physicians, from Wright State University, who have agreed to provide emergency care for clinic patients sufficiently ensure patient safety.
However, the Ohio Department of Health last month rejected the clinic's variance request on the grounds that the two physicians do not adequately guarantee patients' safety. ODH has given the clinic 30 days to file a new variance request or risk closure.
Women's Med Center now is trying to recruit a third physician.
Antiabortion-Rights Activists' Tactics
According to the AP/Chronicle, an antiabortion-rights group called Created Equal has launched a campaign targeting the two physicians who currently help Women's Med Center. The campaign tactics include posting photos of the physicians on a truck that parks outside of their offices and homes, as well as antiabortion-rights postcards mailed to the physicians' neighbors.
In addition, the group has mailed letters to ob-gyns who are not affiliated with the clinic, telling them that they will experience similar treatment if they assist the clinic. According to Executive Director Mark Harrington, the letters have gone to those living within 30 miles of Miami Valley Hospital.
Valerie Haskell, co-owner of Women's Med Center, said the two physicians who currently help the clinic "are heroes to the two million females residing in southwestern Ohio." She added, "Intimidation and harassment should not be allowed to jeopardize abortion access for millions of people" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16).