Reproductive rights activists have phoned the hospital chain ProMedica more than 500 times since Friday, when the Ohio Supreme Court first delivered the devastating news to Toledo’s last abortion clinic, Capital Care, that it will close the clinic for failing to follow state law. Activists will hold a rally and press conference outside ProMedica Toledo hospital Monday evening and plan to move forward with paid advertisements this week.
Activists are demanding that ProMedica partner with Capital Care of Toledo to treat patients should abortion complications arise. Should the hospital network decline, Capital Care will shutter and Toledo residents will have to travel upwards of 50 miles across state lines to Ann Arbor, Michigan for abortion services. ProMedica’s board of directors are expected to make a decision this week.
Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld a 2014 state order requiring Capital Care to close because the clinic lacked a state-mandated transfer agreement with a local hospital. The idea is, in the event that a patient experiences serious complications, they’d be transferred to the hospital. This requirement was part of a 2013 ominous abortion budget bill packaged as “protecting women’s health.” In reality, however, the law is unnecessarily cumbersome, as federal law already mandates that hospitals accept any patient who comes in for ambulatory care. Moreover, abortions are safe procedures, with complications occurring at a rate of less than 0.5 percent.
State officials, so far, have been successful in what anti-choice activists call the “incremental strategy” to end access to safe and legal abortion. In Ohio, 19 repressive reproductive health measures have become law since Gov. John Kasich (R) took office in 2011. Capital Care’s closure would leave only seven abortion clinics open statewide, down from 16 in 2011.
These efforts are targeted. Capital Care had a transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center prior to the 2013 restrictive abortion law, but was unable to renew it because the provision also banned agreements with statewide public institutions. The clinic went five months without a transfer agreement before the University of Michigan Health System hospital in Ann Arbor agreed to partner. The Ohio Department of Health in 2014 revoked the license because a patient would have to travel more than 30 miles for care.