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Ohio Governor Signs Budget With Antiabortion-Rights Provisions, Could Result in Clinic Closures

July 7, 2015 — Last week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed into law a state budget (HB 64) that includes antiabortion-rights provisions, potentially endangering two abortion clinics in the state, WYSO reports (Wallace, WYSO, 7/1).

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.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers last month 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. The compromise budget also includes a provision that requires the state health director to grant or deny a clinic's variance request within 60 days.

Clinics' Future Uncertain

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. Last 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, 6/29).

Further, the new provisions could endanger Women's Med Center in Dayton (WYSO, 7/1). Women's Med filed a variance request from the 2013 requirements two years ago. Last month, Ohio Health Director Richard Hodges denied Women's Med's request and said the clinic had 30 days to file a new request (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/29).

Women's Med co-owner Valerie Haskell said the clinic is trying to reapply for a variance. However, she said that backup physicians whom Women's Med employs to provide emergency care could be targets for abortion-rights opponents because their identities have been shared with the state (AP/Findlay Courier, 7/3).

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, and other reproductive-rights supporters have criticized the fact that the provisions were added late to the budget bill and were not debated in the state House or Senate. She said, "It's clear that these provisions that were added through these backdoor deals are intended to close the only remaining abortion clinics in Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati" (WYSO, 7/1).