Part Two – Losing Access:
The law does allow clinics to be granted an exception (known as a variance) to the transfer agreement requirement if they can prove that an alternative plan is in place for emergencies. However, HB59 also gave the Ohio Department of Health director wider scope to deny these exceptions than was previously granted. This is what has happened as a result.
A clinic in Toledo closed because they could not secure a transfer agreement. However, the plan to close this clinic started a year earlier when Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis was appointed by Governor Kasich to the State Medical Board of Ohio, a regulatory body that licenses and disciplines doctors.
Mr. Gonidakis is neither a lawyer nor a doctor, and he used political tactics to intimidate the University of Toledo Medical Center into canceling its transfer agreement with this clinic and Capital Care in Toledo. On August 11, 2014, a court allowed Capital Care, the last remaining abortion clinic in Toledo, to remain open while appealing a directive from the Ohio Department of Health to shut down.
Another Ohio clinic closed last week because the Ohio Department of Health would not approve an exception to the transfer agreement requirement, despite having done so for more than a decade. After an intensive legal battle, Women’s Med Center in Cincinnati chose not to appeal the decision. Although the clinic will no longer provide surgical abortions, they plan to remain open to provide women’s healthcare services and will refer patients needing abortions to their Dayton clinic, which has been operating with an exception for many years.
Cincinnati’s remaining clinic is a Planned Parenthood facility in Mount Auburn. Having filed a license renewal with the state more than a year ago, they have yet to receive a response. If this clinic also closes, Cincinnati would become the largest metropolitan area in the country without direct access to an abortion provider.
These are politically-motivated tactics, nothing more. The health department, legislators and Governor are not supporting women’s health. Even leading medical organizations have opposed these restrictions!