UTMC decision costs UT endowment

Jacobs’ rejection of abortion clinics’ pact leads ex-prof to alter will


University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs’ decision to terminate the university medical center’s contracts with two abortion clinics will cost the university’s endowment $30,000.

Steven Kramer of Perrysburg, a retired engineering professor, in 1999 bequeathed $30,000 to UT’s Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Department in his will. But on April 9, he notified the university he was writing UT out of his will.

“Several things have influenced this decision. The latest one is the decision not to renew the medical transfer agreement with Capital Care Network. I think this was not a smart decision,” Mr. Kramer said in his letter to Vern Snyder, vice president for institutional advancement at the university.

That was one of dozens of reactions to Dr. Jacobs’ decision in early April to refuse any further “transfer agreements” with two abortion clinics. The Blade obtained a copy of Mr. Kramer’s letter as well as dozens of other emails, letters, and phone messages that flowed to Dr. Jacobs and the UT Board of Trustees in the wake of the abortion clinic dispute.

Dr. Jacobs on April 4 announced he would not renew a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network when it expires July 31 and would end negotiations on a new agreement with Center for Choice in downtown Toledo. The move came after the university’s involvement in the two clinics brought criticism from Ohio Right to Life and anti-abortion state lawmaker Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon).

Dr. Jacobs said he was acting to preserve the university’s neutrality in a divisive national debate, and he emphasized that the lack of a written agreement would have no negative impact on the hospital’s availability to provide medical care to patients who need it.

But because the clinics are required by law to have transfer agreements, both clinics are threatened with closure, prompting protests from pro-choice advocates and from medical school students and faculty.

Toledo’s other two hospital systems, ProMedica and Mercy, also have refused to provide a transfer agreement to the two clinics.

The more than 50 comments in the weeks after Dr. Jacobs’ decision were roughly evenly split.

Writers supporting Dr. Jacobs praised what they saw as a courageous stance against taking part in ending unborn human lives.

“I am an alumna of the university, and I am happy to know that none of my donations to the University will be used to support the abortion industry,” wrote Patricia Zmuda Frey on April 5.

In themselves, transfer agreements don’t commit the university to any expenditure or any involvement with abortions.

Kelly Nonnemacher, who identified herself as a registered nurse in the Toledo area, asked, “who will defend our unborn children if we, as medical professionals, don’t defend them? ... We are so fortunate to have a hospital standing up for our unborn.”

Abortion rights supporters expressed outrage and said Dr. Jacobs’ action could deny women in the Toledo area access to abortions. The closest other abortion clinics, according to Sue Postal, owner/director of Center for Choice, are in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Cleveland.

“I cannot fathom why President Jacobs would make a decision that puts women of our community at risk,” fumed Timothy Wright, who has a 1981 business administration degree and a 1984 law degree but is “not a proud alumni today.” He theorized that political pressure or personal opposition to abortion motivated the decision. Dr. Jacobs has not revealed his personal view of abortion.

Mary Yoder of Bluffton described herself as an elderly woman who was “extremely disappointed by your very cowardly termination of contracts with agencies doing abortions.”

Mr. Kramer, who retired in 2008, declined an interview request from The Blade. In his letter to Mr. Snyder, he said he remains an “avid supporter” of UT, the Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering Department, and the College of Engineering.

University spokesman Jonathan Strunk issued a statement with no comment on Mr. Kramer’s decision, saying “donors have the right to specify where and how their gifts are directed, and the University of Toledo respects that right.”

Mr. Kramer may have jeopardized his standing in the Heritage Oak Society, for people who have given or pledged $25,000 or more to UT. “It depends on the cumulative giving at a point in time. If their pledges are less than [$25,000] they would not be in the society,” Mr. Strunk said.

Mr. Kramer’s disinheritance of the university occurs as the university is conducting a capital campaign aimed at raising $200 million.

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