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Published: Tuesday, 5/14/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Protesters urge Jacobs to save abortion clinics

Transfer pact issue brought to trustees’ attention

Protesters attend the University of Toledo Board of Trustees meeting today to protest the school's decision to end transfer agreements with local abortion clinics and cuts to students services. Protesters attend the University of Toledo Board of Trustees meeting today to protest the school's decision to end transfer agreements with local abortion clinics and cuts to students services.

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees met for two hours Monday without taking formal notice of a group of about 10 students and community members sitting in the audience who were there to urge university President Lloyd Jacobs to go to the rescue of two abortion clinics.

The 10 students, alumni, and others stood outside the Driscoll Center with signs bearing slogans such as “UT Grad Ashamed” and “This Is Not Health Care” next to a coat hanger, as a symbol of illegal abortion practices. They then attended the meeting, but did not attempt to disrupt it.

At issue is the existence of two Toledo abortion clinics that are required by law to have a signed transfer agreement with a full-service hospital, but are threatened with closure by the state Department of Health because no hospital system in Toledo will sign a transfer agreement with them.

Avneet Singh, a UT medical student who joined in the demonstration, said the intent was to bring the issue to the attention of the trustees, who oversee the president. “It’s our understanding the board of trustees is not fully aware of what’s going on,” Ms. Singh said.

State health department regulations require all outpatient surgical facilities to have a transfer agreement with a full-service hospital.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view images

Dr. Jacobs last month ended negotiations to establish a transfer agreement with Toledo abortion clinic Center for Choice. The center has been without a valid agreement since 2010 and last month Ohio Director of Health Dr. Theodore Wymyslo notified the clinic that he was considering issuing a shut-down notice.

Clinics can apply for a variance, or a waiver, from the requirement.

Center for Choice clinic owner and director Sue Postal said she intends to request a hearing in the next week. Another clinic, Capital Care Network, has a transfer agreement that expires July 31 but Dr. Jacobs has said he won’t renew it. Dr. Jacobs said he wants the university to maintain a neutral stance on the controversial issue of abortion.

Dr. Jacobs said after the meeting that he admired the students “for their engagement, for their willingness to stand up for something they believe in.” He said they expressed themselves “without misbehaving in any way.”

He emphasized that women who experience complications during an abortion will be admitted for treatment at University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital, regardless of whether there is a transfer agreement.

Anita Rios, president of the Toledo chapter of the National Organization for Women, said it was her moral responsibility, as a woman who had an abortion when it was not legal in Ohio, to speak out “to do my utmost to prevent women from having to go back to those dark days when having an unwanted pregnancy ran the risk of tremendous medical, physical consequences. When it wasn’t legal it still existed.”

Also Monday the board elected Vice Chairman Joseph H. Zerbey IV as chairman and Sharon Speyer as vice chairman starting in July. Mr. Zerbey, who is president and general manager of The Blade, succeeds Chairman William Koester, who is finishing a nine-year term on the board.

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

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