UPDATE, February 6, 11:24 a.m.: The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the state’s order to close the last abortion care clinic in Toledo after the clinic did not satisfy anti-choice lawmakers’ medically unnecessary requirements to have a transfer agreement with a hospital.
Roughly two months after one of Toledo, Ohio’s two abortion clinics closed, the second clinic has been informed that its license will be suspended and it could be forced to close as well. In both cases, the clinics were unable to secure a hospital transfer agreement at a facility that meets new state criteria.
On June 30, Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the state’s 2014 budget, which included several anti-choice restrictions, among them an amendment forbidding hospitals that accept public funding from having transfer agreements with clinics that provide abortions.
The Capital Care Network clinic in Toledo received a notice from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) on July 30 informing the clinic that its transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center was set to expire the following day, on August 1. On the 1st, ODH representatives visited and called Capital Care asking the clinic to produce a current agreement; the department cited the clinic with a violation for continuing to see patients while not having a finalized transfer agreement in place. On its “summary statement of deficiencies,” the department noted that a clinic staffer reported that the clinic does “have another transfer agreement with another hospital although it has not been signed into agreement yet. A transfer agreement was presented that did not have the name of the hospital or the appropriate signatures.”
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The following day, August 2, ODH sent a follow-up letter to the clinic noting that the department proposes to “issue an Order revoking and refusing to renew Capital Care Network of Toledo’s health care license (ambulatory surgical facility),” because the clinic did not have a current transfer agreement on file.
As of Thursday morning, the Toledo Capital Care clinic was open and continuing to see patients, the Toledo Blade reports.
The Center for Choice, which had been Toledo’s other legal abortion clinic, closed in May when the University of Toledo Medical Center announced it would discontinue negotiations regarding a transfer agreement with the abortion provider, amid news that the transfer agreement rule was being considered.
Another Capital Care clinic in Ohio closed in April after being cited by the DOH for violations including a lapsed pharmacy license, poor clerical documentation, lack of transfer agreement, and issues surrounding its controlled substances.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, told the Toledo Blade that the potential closure of the city’s last legal abortion clinic is “a great opportunity for women with unexpected pregnancy to go to Toledo pregnancy centers, get some real health care, and find ways to keep the child, raise the child, or put the child up for adoption. The key is to offer more options. … Abortion isn’t the answer.”
Correction: A version of this article incorrectly noted that the Center for Choice closed three months ago. It closed roughly two months ago. We regret the error.