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Published: Thursday, 4/4/2013

UTMC ends transfer agreement with Toledo-area abortion clinic

State lawmaker, anti-abortion group object to arrangement

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The University of Toledo Medical Center has canceled a medical transfer agreement it had with one Toledo-area abortion clinic and ended negotiations with another after a state lawmaker and the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life objected to the arrangement as illegal.

Ohio Right to Life today shared copies of letters it received from UT President Lloyd Jacobs indicating the university has notified Capital Care Network in West Toledo that it will not renew the one-year transfer agreement when it expires on July 31.  And in a letter to Center for Choice he said the university was terminating its negotiations to enter into a transfer agreement. The two letters provide no explanation for ending the two agreements.

In his letter to Capital Care Network, Dr. Jacobs wrote, "Should Ohio law affect the validity of this transfer agreement, the University of Toledo may be required to terminate this transfer agreement sooner."

State law requires ambulatory care centers, such as abortion clinics, to have an agreement to cover the transfer of patients who need emergency treatment in the event of complications.

Last year, the state Department of Health fined Capital Care $25,000 and threatened to suspend its license unless it obtained the required transfer agreement. The shutdown threat was canceled after Capital Care signed an agreement with the UT Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, in August, 2012.

Ohio Right to Life and state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon) held a news conference on the medical center campus in March to object to the contract as a violation of the state ban on state-funded entities supporting abortion. Mr. Wachtmann said he intended to introduce legislation to make it explicit in state law that state-funded hospitals may not engage in transfer agreements with abortion clinics.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Columbus-based Ohio Right to Life, said that without a transfer agreement there can’t be an abortion clinic.

He said the absence of an agreement doesn't mean women experiencing complications in an abortion clinic won't be treated at UTMC. He said all hospitals, to maintain their nonprofit status, are required to take any patient who comes to the emergency room.

"We’re going to continue to investigate whether other university hospitals have transfer agreements. It’s our goal to see this legislation through working closely with state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann so we can make sure the conscience rights of Ohio’s taxpayers aren’t being abused," Mr. Gonidakis said.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of the pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said Mr. Gonidakis "bullied the University of Toledo Medical Center into cancelling these transfer agreements."

She noted that Mr. Gonidakis was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to the State Medical Board of Ohio in November, 2012.

“If other transfer agreements cannot be secured, these clinics may be forced to close. Closing legal abortion clinics is not going to stop women from having abortions, it will just make them extremely dangerous. Why is an organization run by a member of the State Medical board putting the lives of women at risk by attacking hospitals and legally operating medical facilities in our state?” Ms. Copeland said.

Mr. Gonidakis said the 12-member medical board rules on licenses of doctors, nurse-practitioners, and massage therapists, and does not set policy or write legislation.

He said, "we thank the university president for making the right decision and the most compassionate decision. There's nothing more important than protecting the conscience rights of taxpayers, students, and alumni."

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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