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Brisk winds and chilly temperatures didn't stop about 50 people from gathering, signs in hand, in front of the University of Toledo tonight, to rally for a reinstatement of transfer agreements for two local abortion clinics.
The demonstration was in response to UT president Dr. Lloyd Jacobs' decision three weeks ago to terminate a transfer agreement with the Capital Care abortion clinic, on Sylvania Avenue, and end negotiations for a renewal agreement with the Center for Choice, 22nd Street.
“It's really a big shock to our system,” Avneet Singh, a UT medical student, said at the rally. “This is a medical procedure. Historically...we've seen what happens...it doesn't stop the procedure itself.”
Ms. Singh said the removal of the agreements will harm training and learning at the university, and that about 265 medical students and university faculty members have signed a petition urging the university to reconsider its decision.
She also said the issue has grown larger than the Toledo area. She said chairs of obstetrics and gynecology departments from notable universities, such as Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have written letters of support.
The announcements occurred after state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon) criticized the transfer agreement as a possible violation of state law. Such an agreement is required for every ambulatory surgery facility. President of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, also criticized the agreement.
Anita Rios, president of the Toledo chapter of the National Organization for Women, said a coalition of groups helped plan the rally.
“We want hopefully to open up a dialogue to let President Jacobs know how strongly we feel about this and we would very much like to ask Dr. Jacobs many questions,” she said. "“I don't think that this is an issue for women that have money. This is an issue for women who don't have money.”
The state health department in 2012 proposed to revoke the license of Capital Care Network, but then suspended the revocation when the clinic signed a transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.
Jennifer Antonini, an attorney who graduated from UT's law program, agrees with Dr. Jacobs' decision. She said Capital Care does not have the best interests of women at heart.
“...That organization who was performing these abortions prior to having the relationship with the University of Toledo Medical Center, was performing abortions with no medical facility to transport any woman who might have a problem,” she said in a telephone interview. “They don't care about the women at all. They care about the money. If they cared about the women, they would have had something in place."
Rally supporter Sean Nestor, a UT graduate, said canceling the agreement was an error in judgment.
“I think Lloyd Jacobs has been outright deceived. The way this is happening is very back door and underhanded,” he said.
Bowling Green student Corinne Hammer, who was holding a sign along with friend Miriam Hancock, also a BGSU student, said she thinks the effects need to be further considered.
“I always try to put myself in that woman's shoes,” she said, adding that she cares about “safety and peace of mind for local women.”
UT does not take a stance on the demonstration, said university spokesman Jon Strunk.
“The issue of abortion is one that divides people of good conscience in every community, including at this institution. As a public university, UT takes no position on the issue and respects the views of all,” he said in a written statement.
Mr. Strunk said Dr. Jacobs was unavailable for comment.The university also issued the statement that the medical center will not turn away patients who arrive with complications from abortions.
“...The University of Toledo Medical Center will in every circumstance provide medical care to any patient regardless of the reason that care is needed or the choices a patient makes prior to his or her arrival at our hospital,” the statement said.
Contact Kelly McLendon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6522 or on Twitter @KMcBlade.