The last abortion clinic in Toledo could be shut down by the state soon. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports how a new state law is putting the clinic in a position where a court will eventually determine its fate.
Ambulatory clinics, including abortion clinics, are required to have an agreement with a nearby hospital called a transfer agreement, so that the hospital will take a patient if something goes wrong.
The Capital Care Center, a women’s clinic in Toledo that performs abortions, has a transfer agreement with the University of Michigan hospital some 52 miles away -- but the Ohio Department of Health says that’s not a valid agreement.
Ohio Right to Life’s Mike Gonidakis is praising this ruling.
"To allow an abortion clinic to have another state, especially the state of Michigan, a hospital transfer agreement that’s more than 50 miles away, it’s on borderline absurdity," Gonidakis said. "I think most Ohioans believe in the commonsense approach that we should have our own people within our borders and our own institutions regulating all types of medical industry."
The Capital Care Center did have a transfer agreement with University of Toledo Hospital up until a couple of years ago when state lawmakers passed a law that said state-owned hospitals could not have transfer agreements with ambulatory centers that performed abortions -- a bill that was supported by Ohio Right to Life as well as other abortion opponents.
Most of the hospitals near Toledo are either owned by the state or a religious institution that opposes abortion. The Michigan hospital was the closest hospital that would sign a transfer agreement with the center. The conflict over this transfer agreement’s validity will be questioned in court as the center plans to sue the state.
But right now, the center is one step closer to closing. Still, Gonidakis said he doesn’t see it as a victory.
"They're still open and they're still operating," he said. "They are going to appeal this so their doors will remain open during the litigation. A victory is when we can end abortion. That’s what our goal is at Ohio Right to Life."
Kellie Copeland of NARAL ProChoice Ohio said a possible closure of the Toledo clinic won’t make abortion go away.
"I suppose that’s their fantasy that if they close all of the abortion clinics that women won’t have abortions anymore," she said. "But that has never been true."
She said just look at what has happened in Texas.
"We have seen in Texas where abortion clinics have closed that women are attempting to terminate their own pregnancies, that they are obtaining medications and taking them in an attempt to terminate their own pregnancies, that they are taking desperate measures," she said. "And we would expect to see the exact same thing happen in Toledo."
Copeland said the new laws on the books won’t get rid of abortions but will instead make them more dangerous.
"There’s no medical reason that these clinics are being closed," she said. "I mean, we're talking about regulatory red tape that has been politically designed to close clinics. This is not a safety issue. The complication for abortion in Ohio is something like 0.13 percent. It’s less than two tenths of a percent – the complication rate in Ohio."
One abortion clinic that was operating in Toledo prior to Kasich being elected in 2010 has already closed its doors. The Center for Choice shut down last year because it could not come up with a valid transfer agreement after operating without one for more than three years.
This post has been updated to correct a misspelling. The head of Ohio Right to Life is named Mike Gonidakis, not Gonadakis.