The Ohio Department of Health has granted a license to Dayton’s only abortion clinic, allowing it to perform surgical abortions.
The Dayton clinic has not been providing surgical abortions for the past couple of weeks because it lacked a required transfer agreement with a local hospital. It had obtained an agreement with area doctors who offered to treat clinic patients if necessary.
Ohio law mandates a clinic that provides surgical abortions have a valid transfer agreement with a local hospital to be able to get and maintain an operating license. The Women’s Medical Center of Dayton, which has been operating since 1983, has been battling with the state for years to stay open. And for the last two weeks, the clinic had been prescribing medication to induce abortion but had not been performing surgical abortions. But Elizabeth Bonham with the ACLU of Ohio says the Ohio Department of Health has now issued that certification, so patients will no longer have to go elsewhere to get surgical abortions.
“The center, being without licensure, for just a couple of weeks, caused patients to have to go to Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis.”
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL ProChoice Ohio says the Dayton clinic was unable to get the standard transfer agreement with one of its local hospitals. So, she says it had to get an alternative agreement.
“So individual doctors had to sign an alternative agreement so the clinic could stay open.”
Copeland says since hospitals are legally required to treat patients, and these doctors have signed on saying they will, this agreement met the requirements of the state’s health department.”
But the Executive Director for Ohio Right to Life disagrees. Stephanie Ranade Krider takes issue with the clinic’s owner, Dr. Martin Haskell, and the health department’s decision.
“How any attorney sees fit to continue to argue in his favor is shocking enough to us but it is also shocking that the Ohio Department of Health would grant licensure to such an irresponsible individual.”
Ranade Krider says the Dayton clinic has operated for a long time on legal and administrative appeals, asking for exceptions. She notes similar clinics in other cities have been able to comply with the transfer agreement rule, created in the state budget in 2015. She says her group will continue to fight this clinic.
“We will continue on. We will look again at his licensure request. We will continue to ask for inspections to hold him accountable. And certainly there is a really dedicated group of people who are committed to standing outside of his clinic, praying and doing what we call sidewalk counseling and speaking to the women who are going into that facility.”
But NARAL’s Copeland says this clinic should have been granted this license a long time ago.
“The fact remains that this clinic has provided safe, quality abortion care to its patients for years and should remain open because patients rely on them for the care that they need."
The ACLU’s Bonham says courts across the country have recently ruled laws like this that restrict abortion access are unconstitutional. She says this kind of regulation is designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, for abortion clinics to operate while advocates work to get the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision reconsidered by the U.S. Supreme Court.