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Dayton, Toledo Abortion Clinics Threatened By New State Law

The Women's Med Center in Dayton's south suburbs is routinely picketed by abortion opponents.
Samuel Worley
The Women's Med Center in Dayton's south suburbs is routinely picketed by abortion opponents.

Abortion clinics in Dayton and Toledo might be forced to close by tightening state regulations. New provisions in the governor’s budget signed into law Tuesday evening could make it harder for abortion providers to stay open.

The regulations already include requirements that clinics have a transfer agreement with a local hospital, and the hospital can’t be a publicly-funded one. Those are in addition to a list of other regulations put in place under the Kasich administration that have contributed to the closure of eight of the state’s 16 abortion clinics.

The new law specifies the hospital must be within 30 miles of the clinic, a provision that has already been put in place in a few other states. And any exceptions to those transfer rules will now have to be approved by the Department of Health within 60 days.

Kellie Copeland, the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, says clinics are being regulated out of existence.

“It’s clear that these provisions that were added through these backdoor deals are intended to close the only remaining abortion clinics in Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati,” she said Wednesday. She and other advocates object to the fact that the provisions were added to the budget bill late in the game, and weren’t debated on the house or senate floor

And some abortion opponents aren’t denying that they are trying to regulate abortion clinics out of existence.

“Obviously our goal is to end abortion, whether that’s through legal means or whether that’s just educating the public,” said Stephanie Ranade-Krider, Executive Director of Ohio Right to Life. “We’ll use any means necessary.”

But Ranade-Krider says the transfer provisions are also about health and safety.

Right now Toledo’s Capital Care clinic has a transfer agreement with a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan—and it’s fighting a shutdown order in court already. The new law would definitively make that hospital too far away, and it’s not clear how the change will enter into the legal case.

The Dayton Women’s Med Center just had a variance request denied by the state last week, and didn’t return phone calls asking for a comment. The Ohio Department of Health also declined comment for this story.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.