The owner of Toledo’s only remaining abortion clinic said she will help women travel to Columbus for abortion services if Capital Care Network is forced to stop offering surgeries on Aug. 12.
The Ohio Department of Health issued an order Wednesday revoking Capital Care’s license effective Aug. 12. The West Sylvania Avenue clinic has 15 days after the mailing of the notice to file an appeal and request that a court stay the order pending that appeal.
Capital Care’s owner Terrie Hubbard said her attorney will file a petition with the court next week asking that the clinic be allowed to continue offering abortion services while appealing the state order.
Even if the stay is not granted, however, Ms. Hubbard said she plans to keep Capital Care open as a women’s clinic. The clinic would offer gynecological services as well as abortion counseling, Ms. Hubbard said.
“I want to let the public know that they can go to the Toledo office for their first visit,” she said.
Ohio law requires women must first have a consultation visit and then wait 24 hours before having an abortion, Ms. Hubbard said. The law allows women to have consultations in one place and abortion services in another as long as they can be advised what doctor will perform the procedure, she said.
Four local women have volunteered to drive women to Columbus after the consultation for the surgeries at the Founders Women’s Health Clinic.
The volunteers came forward out of concern that some Toledo women would be unable to afford to travel to other Ohio cities such as Cleveland, Dayton, or Columbus if Capital Care is forced to stop providing abortions, she said.
Ms. Hubbard also owns the company that manages the Columbus facility. She said her affiliation with the Columbus clinic will allow her to inform the women which doctor will perform the abortion.
“I’m certainly not doing this as a financial matter. I have spent so much money on attorney fees — it’s not about money, it’s just that there will be no more choice in this area. I just don’t want us to go back to 1973. I don’t want to see women trying to have an abortion by themselves and have them end up injuring or killing themselves. That is my biggest concern,” Ms. Hubbard said.
She said the clinic will continue offering abortion service until midnight, Aug. 12 if the courts do not step in.
Interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health Lance Himes signed the order Tuesday, “refusing to renew and revoking” the health-care facility license of Capital Care.
Mr. Himes’ decision follows a recommendation from a state hearing examiner in June that the clinic be shuttered because it does not hold a valid emergency-care agreement with a local hospital, a requirement of state law.
The two-year state budget passed last year cemented in law what had previously been an administrative rule within the health department requiring ambulatory surgical centers to have agreements with hospitals to transfer patients if complications arise.
Lawmakers then went a step further by requiring that agreement to be with a “local” hospital without defining what that meant.
The University of Toledo Medical Center chose not to renew its agreement with Capital Care as of July 31, 2013. The budget later prohibited public hospitals like UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, from entering into such agreements.
The clinic struggled for months to find a hospital with which to partner before entering into an agreement in January with the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor — more than 50 miles away — to provide emergency care in case of complications with its patients.
The agreement with the Ann Arbor hospital, however, stated it would not be responsible for transporting patients. The clinic was prepared to pay for helicopter transports, if necessary.
Ms. Hubbard said after the state revoked her license this week, she contacted every hospital in a 30-mile radius of Toledo for the second time seeking a transfer agreement. She said most have not returned her call, but one employee from the risk-management department at ProMedica St. Luke’s hospital did respond. “He told me, ‘Good luck, but don’t hold out any hope. I don’t see this happening,’ ” Ms. Hubbard said.
An online petition has been posted by Kristin McKeown asking ProMedica CEO Randy Oostra to enter into a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network by Aug. 10. The petition has about 100 signatures, and the information on the site said it will be delivered to Mr. Oostra after it reaches 200 signatures.
The group Social Activists of Toledo also sent a letter to Mr. Oostra, saying they believe it is a “blatant violation of the Hippocratic oath, as it pertains to do no harm, for you to continue to refuse compliance with Capital Care Network’s proposed transfer agreement.”
“ProMedica Toledo Hospital does not have transfer agreements with abortion clinics. However, with or without a transfer agreement, we will perform any necessary treatment of women, on any patient, in need of [emergency] care. This issue is between the clinics and the Ohio Department of Health. We do not want to be put into a position of choosing a political position that is only divisive and polarizing, when our only commitment is to ensure we provide solid health care,” ProMedica officials said in a written statement.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.