UTMC's Jacobs stays course on abortion clinics, opposes transfer pacts

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

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    University of Toledo Medical Center students and faculty from the UT law school and UTMC’s department of obstetrics and gynecology said they made little headway Friday in a meeting with university President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs over his opposition to the university establishing “transfer agreements” with two local abortion clinics.

    “They’re not at this point prepared to change the status quo,” said Carolyn Payne, a medical student and president of UT Toledo Medical Students for Choice.

    She said Dr. Jacobs again held out the possibility of a change if the clinics can prove they have no alternative to shutting down.

    “If the clinics have exhausted all their options they want to see some documentation of that and they would potentially reconsider,” said Ms. Payne, summarizing what she said they were told by Dr. Jacobs, who met with them along with Dr. Jeffrey Gold, the chancellor of the university and dean of the college of medicine.

    The four female students who were in the meeting said they believe the two Toledo abortion clinics, Center for Choice in downtown Toledo and Capital Care Network in West Toledo, might be forced by the Ohio Department of Health to close soon because they do not have active transfer agreements, which are required under state health regulations for all “ambulatory surgical facilities.”

    The clinics have the option of seeking a variance from the law, but the students described that as difficult to obtain.

    Earlier this month, Dr. Jacobs said he would not renew a transfer agreement with the Capital Care Network and would discontinue negotiations on an agreement with Center for Choice.

    The move occurred after the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life and state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon) had criticized the arrangements as putting the taxpayer-supported hospital and medical school in business with abortion clinics and potentially illegal.

    Transfer agreements have been required for all ambulatory surgical facilities in Ohio since 1996. In practice, according to hospital officials, all area hospitals are required by their charters to care for any patient who shows up needing care.

    The agreements don’t bind the university to perform abortions, pay for any treatment, transport patients, or accept any additional liability for patients.

    Dr. Jacobs told The Blade on Monday he withdrew the university from the two agreements because he wanted to keep the university neutral in the controversial issue of abortion.

    Neither of Toledo’s other two hospital systems, ProMedica and Mercy, has offered to provide the transfer agreements.

    Dr. Jacobs said, “It was a good meeting, honest exchange, and I don’t know that I enjoyed it, but I think we certainly learned from one another.” Asked if he thought the abortion clinics would have to shut down, Dr. Jacobs said, “I think if they work at not closing, they can find options. I hope they do.”

    The UT ob/gyn department, law school professors, and the national and Ohio chapters of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have criticized the refusal of transfer agreements as an infringement on women’s access to medical care.

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