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Students, alumni protesting abortion clinic agreements decision attend UT trustees meeting

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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 Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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A group of University of Toledo students today greeted UT trustees arriving on campus for the monthly board meeting with signs demanding that UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs sign transfer agreements to allow two abortion clinics to continue to operate.

The 10 students, alumni, and others in the group carried signs and then sat through the two-hour trustees meeting during which the topic never came up. Several students held their signs in the air during the meeting.

Avneet Singh, a UT medical student who led 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. "We hope this will get Dr. Jacobs' attention to at least allow for a variance."

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

Clinics can get a variance, or a waiver, from the requirement, but it's been described as difficult to attain.

Clinic owner and director Sue Postal said she intends to exercise her right to request a hearing sometime 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 abortions. Supporters of the clinics point out that without a transfer agreement the clinics would be forced out of business.

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 said there is no change in his determination not to sign a transfer agreement. 

"There is continued discussion inside our organization," he said. Though state regulations require a transfer agreement, the lack of one does not mean women experiencing complications in abortion clinics won't get treatment. Hospital officials have said they are required to accept and treat patients who who show up in their emergency rooms regardless of whether an agreement is in place.

"We will continue always to take care of any patient that comes to us for any reason from anywhere," Dr. Jacobs said.

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

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