Pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates commemorate January 22 as the day the landmark Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion was announced in 1973. This year, both sides are also noting the potential closure of another clinic in Ohio - very near the 41st anniversary of that critical decision. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports.
The Ohio Department of Health has ordered the Women’s Med Center near Cincinnati to close down, because the facility doesn’t have a transfer agreement with a hospital in case of complications with patients. Mike Gonidakis with Ohio Right to Life says the clinic had been violating state law for more than a year.
“Specifically, the law requires every ambulatory surgical facility to have a transfer agreement, whether you perform abortions, laser eye surgery, ENT – you have to have a transfer agreement because you’re not a free-standing hospital. Yet this clinic chose to turn away from Ohio law and it’s finally caught up to them with the Department of Health.”
The lawyer for the clinic says it will appeal the decision, and it will stay open until a final resolution, which might not happen for months, maybe more than a year. In the meantime, pro-choice activists are asking their backers to show support for the clinic, which Kellie Copeland with NARAL Pro Choice Ohio says has an excellent safety record.
“Gov. Kasich and his political appointees are moving to close a clinic not based on any medical reasons, not based on some sort of complication rate or anything like that, but on bureaucratic paperwork that they’re refusing to approve.”
Copeland says abortion needs to stay legal so clinics can be regulated and held to appropriate safety standards. But she says the order to close this clinic, along with the shutdowns of four other clinics last year, is about ideology, not patient safety.
“Last year, in the whole state of Ohio, there were over 25,000 procedures. Of that there were 45 complications, and not all of those required a transfer to a hospital. That’s a complication rate of .0018%. This procedure is exceedingly safe.”
But Gonidakis says instances of potentially unsafe equipment have turned up in inspection reports, and he says abortion rights supporters need to call out clinics which aren’t operating safely. And he adds…
“There was 25,000 babies that lost their lives to abortions last year, and there were 45 botched abortions last year against women in Ohio. That’s alarming. The Food and Drug Administration pulls drugs off the shelf if there’s a handful of complications with those drugs, yet last year we found out there was 42 botched chemical abortions in Ohio. So whether it be one or more than one, we need to take these instances serious if we really want to protect women’s health.”
There are also concerns being raised about an abortion clinic in Cuyahoga Falls in Summit County that wants to operate out of the same facility that hosted a clinic that closed last year. Its license is listed as pending with the Ohio Department of Health. Copeland says there is an astounding amount of regulation that a new clinic would have to comply with, some of which is not medically necessary. But anti-abortion activists in the area say they will do whatever they can legally to stop the clinic from operating.