The greater Cincinnati area could soon become one of the largest in the country without an abortion provider.
The only remaining abortion clinic in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, which serves an estimated 2.1 million people, was hit with a citation this month from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) for failing to have a written transfer agreement with a local private hospital.
Clinic officials said they had applied for an exemption to such an agreement more than a year ago, but never heard back from the state.
Ohio started 2013 with 14 abortion providers, but that number has since been cut in half due in large part to a targeted effort by the ODH and Republican Gov. John Kasich to restrict abortion rights across the state.
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The state legislature in 2013 passed an anti-choice provision as part of its two-year budget that requires outpatient abortion clinics have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital willing to take abortion patients in an emergency, or that the clinic get a variance exempting it from the requirement. This has become a common tactic among anti-choice lawmakers in states with conservative or evenly-split legislatures, even though such laws have no medical benefit.
The law is particularly restrictive because it specifies that the agreement must be made with a privately-owned hospital, many of which have religious affiliations and are opposed to abortion.
Rick Pender, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood’s Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center in Cincinnati, said the medical clinic had an agreement with the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for years prior to the law.
Pender also said that Planned Parenthood applied for a variance more than a year ago but that it never heard back from the Ohio Department of Health, despite the fact that it has continued to update the ODH on its ongoing compliance with the law.
The Cincinnati Planned Parenthood is not the only clinic forced to close because of the law. The Capital Care Network clinic in July had its license revoked after it couldn’t find a local private hospital to sign a transfer agreement.
The clinic had a previous agreement with the University of Michigan Health System, but the state ruled that the agreement didn’t meet the criteria of the law.
And in August, the Lebanon Road Surgery Center stopped providing abortions after the ODH revoked its license for failing to have a transfer agreement.