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Toledo Clinic to Close Due to Ohio TRAP Law (Updated)

Nina Liss-Schultz

The last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, will be forced to close because, it was told by the state health department, its transfer agreement with the University of Michigan Health System does not fit the criteria of state law, which requires the transfer hospital to be "local."

UPDATE, August 7, 5:08 p.m.: Capital Care Network, the only remaining abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, has appealed the state Department of Health’s decision to revoke its license, according to news reports Thursday.

The last abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, will be forced to close in just a few weeks, after the state Department of Health revoked its license.

In an adjudication order dated Wednesday and sent to the Capital Care Network (CCN), Toledo’s only abortion provider and one of the only providers in northwest Ohio, the state Department of Health said that it was “revoking and refusing to renew” CCN’s health-care facility license because it failed to comply with state law requiring abortion providers have transfer agreements with local hospitals.

The clinic had such an agreement with the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS), about 50 miles away in Ann Arbor, but the order said the agreement with UMHS did not fit the criteria of state law, which requires the transfer hospital to be “local.”

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Specifically, the law requires that abortion providers in the Buckeye State have a transfer agreement with a “local” hospital that is also not a public institution, and that the provider and hospital must have a specific plan for the “safe and immediate transfer of patients” to the hospital in cases of medical complication or emergency.

The clinic’s attorney, Jennifer Branch, told the Toledo Blade that CCN will appeal the department’s decision and ask the court to keep the clinic open during the appeal process. The clinic will otherwise have to close by August 12. Meanwhile, CCN will once again try to find an Ohio-based hospital that will come into a transfer agreement.

Transfer agreements like the one in Ohio have been enacted throughout the country, despite the fact that they are not based on medical evidence of ensuring patient safety. As Rewire has reported before, abortion care in the United States is overwhelmingly safe. According to the Guttmacher Institute, first-trimester abortions are “one of the safest medical procedures,” with less than 0.05 percent of complications that need hospital care. Recently, the state legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee acknowledged at a convention that abortion is safer than pregnancy.

The Ohio TRAP (targeted regulations of abortion provider) law passed last June as part of a two-year budget. Along with enacting the transfer agreement requirement, Ohio lawmakers also defunded Planned Parenthood clinics, moved public funding for family planning to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers, and created a mandate requiring doctors to give their patients seeking abortion information about the “fetal heartbeat.”

Prior to the University of Michigan contract, CCN had another transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center. However, the university decided not to renew its agreement last July, forcing CCN to look elsewhere in order to satisfy the law. According to the Toledo Blade, CCN struggled for months to find a hospital.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told the paper that the decision will force women in northwest Ohio to cross state lines for safe abortion access. “If you don’t have a car, and you are trying to rely on a bus the logistics are impossible and frankly these medically unnecessary regulations were written because they knew that certain women would be unable to jump through all the hoops that the state would put in front of them,” she told the paper.

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