June 19, 2015 — The Ohio Senate on Wednesday voted 23-10 to advance a state budget (HB 64) that would give abortion clinics operating without a transfer agreement two months to obtain state permission to continue operating, among other provisions, the AP/Willoughby News-Herald reports.
According to AP/News-Herald, the measure is scheduled to be debated in conference discussions on Friday. Gov. John Kasich (R) has until June 30 to sign a finalized budget into law (Sanner/Carr Smyth, AP/Willoughby News-Herald, 6/18).
Background on Transfer Agreement Requirement
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 (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/1/13).
Several clinics have asked the Ohio Department of Health for a variance from the law.
After a yearlong wait, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region in November 2014 obtained a variance for the last abortion clinic in the Cincinnati area (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/24/14). Meanwhile, a variance request filed two years ago by Women's Med in Dayton is still pending.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, clinics unable to obtain a variance within 60 days would be required to close. However, they would be permitted to reopen if they obtain approval at a later time (Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/17).
The budget proposal also includes provisions to restore Medicaid coverage for certain low-income pregnant women as well as certain low-income women with cervical or breast cancer.
Meanwhile, the state Senate rejected a budget provision that would have required clinics to have transfer agreements with a hospital within 30 miles. The measure would have been problematic for a Toledo-based clinic, which currently has an agreement with a hospital 50 miles away (AP/Willoughby News-Herald, 6/18).