Over 200 urge UT to help abortion clinics; rally set for today

University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC), former Medical College of Ohio.
University of Toledo Medical Center (UTMC), former Medical College of Ohio.

University of Toledo students are trying to put pressure on university President Lloyd Jacobs to negotiate “transfer agreements” with two Toledo abortion clinics, and a local women’s group announced plans to demonstrate at the university today.

A petition has garnered more than 200 signatures from students, faculty, and medical residents in the UT medical school, said Avneet Singh, a student at the medical school considering a specialty in obstetrics and gynecology.

“What’s happening is we’re putting medical reason and logic aside for what seems like a conservative attack on women’s health,” said Ms. Singh.

The Toledo chapter of the National Organization for Women said it would demonstrate outside the university on Bancroft Street from 6 to 7 p.m. to express its support for the university signing the transfer agreements.

Last month, Dr. Jacobs announced he was terminating UT’s transfer agreement with Capital Care Network abortion clinic on Sylvania Avenue and ending negotiations on a new agreement with Center for Choice downtown.

The move occurred after Ohio Right to Life and state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon) criticized the arrangements as a possible violation of a state law prohibiting state-funded hospitals from providing abortions.

However, the transfer agreements do not directly involve the hospital in performing abortions, and officials have said the agreements are formalities that only commit the hospital to accept patients who experience medical emergencies while undergoing an abortion — something hospitals would be required to do anyway under their nonprofit status.

Ms. Singh said the agreements are required for every ambulatory surgical facility.

Mr. Wachtmann has not returned phone calls seeking additional comment.

Carrie Russell, a UT law school student, said she was disappointed in her university and said, “I think it’s really unfortunate that Dr. Jacobs was pressured into ending these transfer agreements with the abortion clinics here in town that could potentially shut both abortion clinics down.

That would affect thousands of women in the area, and from Michigan and Indiana who travel to Toledo to have family planning and abortions.”

The UT Student Government passed a resolution in support of the transfer agreements Tuesday night, by a vote of 12-3, with two abstaining, according to Kaitlyn Filzer, a member of the Student Government Election Board and other campus organizations.

She said the resolution was proposed by the College Democrats, of which she is the membership director.

“There is no reason that [University of Toledo Medical Center] should not provide care to anyone, regardless of the circumstances that they need medical attention. We understand that the university does not want to take a position on the contentious issue of abortion; however, we feel that by refusing to enter these contracts, the university is doing exactly that,” Ms. Filzer said.

“These contracts are a pledge to provide medical care to women who need it, and we feel that UTMC has a responsibility to provide that care,” she said of the former Medical College of Ohio.

Jon Strunk, a spokesman for the university, said that Dr. Jacobs was not available Thursday for comment.

ProMedica, which operates Toledo Hospital, has suggested it might agree to establish a transfer agreement with the two abortion clinics, but offered no details Thursday on whether that will take place.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said neither hospital should be involved in the abortion business, which he said ends lives.

The regulation requiring all ambulatory surgical facilities has been mandated by the Ohio Department of Health since 1996.

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 UTMC.