Ohio abortion clinic closings likely to accelerate under new state regulations
By Jeremy Pelzer, Northeast Ohio Media Group
on October 24, 2013 at 8:00 AM, updated October 24, 2013 at 2:40 PM
Plain Dealer on Abortion Clinic Closings
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated, in error, that the Capital Care Women’s Center in Toledo was reportedly planning to close Wednesday. The facility remains open while they appeal a state closure order.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—At the start of 2013, there were 14 abortion clinics in Ohio.
Today, there are 11. And thanks to newly enacted state restrictions, at least two more facilities are reportedly in danger of closing.
If the trend continues, large swaths of the state could soon be left without any abortion providers at all.
“You could be looking at everything west of Columbus being gone in fairly quick order,” said Kellie Copeland, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.
So far this year, three abortion clinics in Ohio have shut their doors: the Cleveland Center for Women’s Health, Capital Care Network of Cuyahoga Falls, and the Center for Choice in Toledo.
Two other clinics are in danger of going out of business: Toledo’s other abortion provider, Capital Care Women’s Center, as well as a fifth clinic in suburban Cincinnati.
The Cleveland Center for Women’s Health closed because of Ohio’s ban on late-term abortions, according to both pro- and anti-abortion activists. The Cuyahoga Falls clinic closed in April after failing a state health and safety inspection, the Dispatch reported.
The other clinics’ troubles stem from a provision in the state budget prohibiting abortion centers from entering into required contracts, called transfer agreements, with public hospitals.
The budget also gives the director of the Ohio Department of Health the authority to unilaterally revoke variance waivers, which clinics can receive to operate without a transfer agreement.
The ban on transfer agreements with public hospitals was drawn up specifically to target Toledo’s two abortion clinics, both of which had agreements with the University of Toledo Medical Center, said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right To Life.
Gonidakis noted that health inspectors also found several health and safety violations at the Center For Choice, including expired medicine, insufficient protection against infections, and rusty and moldy operating-room equipment, according to the Dispatch. The center closed in June.
The Women’s Med Center in Sharonville is also reportedly in danger of shutting down after the ODH pulled its variance waivers and declined to renew its operating license after finding safety and training violations, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
However, Jennifer Branch, an attorney for the Women’s Med Center, told Northeast Ohio Media Group on Thursday that the facility is appealing to the ODH. In a statement, Branch said the clinic “has no plans to close its doors.”
The Women’s Med Center’s other abortion clinic, in Dayton, also operates with a variance waiver. Copeland said it’s likely to be next clinic targeted, though Branch said that the ODH hasn’t notified the facility of any problems.
The remaining eight abortion clinics in Ohio – three in Cleveland, three in Columbus, and one each in Akron and Cincinnati – each have transfer agreements in effect with private hospitals, according to the Dispatch.
Copeland called the new regulations “an abuse of the regulatory process” and said closing clinics would hurt the safety of women.
“Some women will turn to desperate measures,” she said. “Some women will travel out of state. Some women will continue pregnancies for a lot of good reasons they didn’t want to have to continue.”
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a lawsuitagainst the transfer agreement clause and other anti-abortion measures in the state budget.
But Gonidakis said the Gov. John Kasich’s administration is just enforcing laws that neither of his two predecessors – Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican Bob Taft – had an appetite to enforce.
“Frankly, the bottom line is that our governor doing his job,” Gonidakis said.
Ohio law prohibits the use of state money to directly fund abortions, Gonidakis said, and the practice of public hospitals entering transfer agreements with abortion clinics was an indirect way of using tax dollars to support killing unborn children.
“I don’t think one specific law will close all abortion clinics,” he said when asked about the possibility. “I think it’s a combination of enforcing the law, passing common-sense laws, and then the culture changing.”
More than 25,000 abortions were performed in Ohio last year, according to the Ohio Department of Health – an increase of about 3 percent compared to 2011.
Today, the Plain Dealer ran the story “Ohio abortion clinic closings likely to accelerate under new state regulations.” Please find the article attached as a PDF, as well as copied below.
As you know, pro-life Ohio has made considerable progress this year. A major Ohio news outlet gives rather fair coverage to that progress in this story. Though it is simply factual, the article’s opening is encouraging for us: “At the start of 2013, there were 14 abortion clinics in Ohio. Today, there are 11.” The article even includes the health and safety violations found at the Center for Choice in Toledo. Hopefully, this story will spread more awareness about the risks abortion clinics pose to women.
Ohio Right to Life continues to be encouraged by the closing of abortion clinics, as well as the Plain Dealer’s fair treatment of those closings in this article.
Public Relations Manager
Ohio Right to Life
88 East Broad Street, Suite 620
Columbus, Ohio 43215