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Published: Saturday, 8/10/2013

City’s last abortion clinic may close

State threatens to yank license over absence of transfer pact

BY ARIELLE STAMBLER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Capital Care Network of Toledo continued to see patients on Thursday, but that soon could change if its license is revoked. Capital Care Network of Toledo continued to see patients on Thursday, but that soon could change if its license is revoked.
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The last abortion clinic in the city, Capital Care Network of Toledo, could be forced to close its doors within the month, which would make Toledo the largest city in the state without a provider.

Since it is not a full-service medical facility, the Ohio Department of Health requires Capital Care to have a transfer agreement with a hospital in case of complications from an abortion procedure, but Capital Care’s transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center expired July 31.

Capital Care cannot renew its transfer agreement with UTMC, the former Medical College of Ohio, because of provisions in Ohio’s most recent budget that bar publicly-funded hospitals such as UTMC from entering into transfer agreements with abortion clinics.

According to Tessie Pollock, health department spokesman, Capital Care has yet to provide the health department with a valid transfer pact from a different hospital. The department has proposed revoking Capital Care’s health-care facility license. Toledo’s other abortion clinic, Center for Choice, closed in June for similar reasons.

Dr. Theodore Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health, notified the facility in a letter dated Aug. 2 that it had 30 days to request an administrative hearing. Ms. Pollock said that if Capital Care does not respond within that time, the health department will proceed with revocation.

Terrie Hubbard, identified by the health department as Capital Care Network of Toledo’s owner, did not return phone calls or an email seeking comment.

However, as of Thursday morning, Capital Care was open and seeing patients.

The thought Toledo could be left without an abortion clinic is upsetting to many pro-choice advocates. Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said that only 0.002 percent of abortions performed in Ohio in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled, resulted in complications. Of those, she said an even smaller percentage required emergency transfer to a hospital. “Any attempt to say that Ohio abortion providers are not providing excellent medical care is just wrong,” she said.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, saw the potential closing as a chance for women to explore options other than abortion. “It’s a great opportunity for women with unexpected pregnancy to go to Toledo pregnancy centers, get some real health care, and find ways to keep the child, raise the child, or put the child up for adoption,” Mr. Gonidakis said. “The key is to offer more options. ... Abortion isn’t the answer.”

According to a statement issued by a ProMedica spokesman, ProMedica Toledo Hospital, a private facility, does not have a transfer agreement with Capital Care because it wants to remain neutral in the abortion debate but is still committed to providing emergency care to all women who need it.

“No hospital in the greater Toledo area desires to do business with an abortion provider,” Mr. Gonidakis said. “We live in a pro-life state.”

At the University of Toledo, Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, university president, issued a written statement Thursday evening. It said “The action of the state legislature in passing the FY14 budget bill has rendered our decision moot. However, we recognize that the issue of abortion is one that divides people of good conscience in every community, including at this institution. As a public university, UT takes no position on the issue and respects the views of all.”

Ms. Copeland expressed disappointment with the state government’s handling of the abortion debate. “For the Kasich administration to use their power to close legal providers of health care because of a political ideology is an embarrassment to a state that has some of the top medical facilities in the world,” she said.

Contact Arielle Stambler at: astambler@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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