Ohio Clinic Files New Request Seeking Exemption From Antiabortion-Rights Regulations

August 5, 2015 — Last month, an abortion clinic in Ohio again filed for an exemption to state regulations mandating that it have a patient transfer agreement in place with a nearby hospital, the AP/Idaho Statesman reports.

According to the AP/Idaho Statesman, the clinic, Women's Med Center in Dayton, could face closure if its variance request is denied (AP/Idaho Statesman, 8/3).

State TRAP Requirements

Under Ohio's 2014-2015 budget (HB 59), signed in 2013, 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. The budget also 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.

Initial Request Denied

Women's Med Center originally filed a variance request from the 2013 requirements two years ago. 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 in late June rejected the clinic's variance request on the grounds that the two physicians do not adequately guarantee patients' safety. ODH gave the clinic 30 days to file a new variance request or risk closure (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/17).

New Request

In its latest request, Women's Med Center said it had arranged for a third physician to provide emergency care if necessary. Valerie Haskell, spokesperson for the clinic, said it is difficult to predict the response from ODH officials, but the "application is not different from others [ODH has] approved in the past."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for ODH said the agency is reviewing the variance (AP/Idaho Statesman, 8/3).