Possible closure of Ohio clinic shows new tactic in U.S. abortion clash
By George Tanber
TOLEDO, OHIO (Reuters) - When open for business, the single-story, L-shaped brick building in a run-down west Toledo neighborhood is usually targeted by sign-toting protesters pacing the sidewalk across the street while off-duty police patrol the parking lot.
A sign in a neighbor's window reads: "You Shall Not Murder."
Toledo's Capital Care abortion clinic, the only one in this rust belt city of 285,000, has become the latest front in the national battle over abortion rights, this one centering on a new state law that bars agreements to move women needing emergency care to public hospitals.
Toledo's clinic may have to close because its transfer agreement with a public hospital expired last month and under the new law it cannot renew it.
Abortion clinics in Ohio are required to have so-called transfer agreements with hospitals under which a patient can be admitted in case of complications. In 2011, the latest year for which data is available from the health department, complications arose in 91 of 24,764 abortions performed in Ohio.
The new law passed by Ohio's Republican-dominated legislature in June blocks public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion clinics. The result is that clinics either must have arrangements with private hospitals, since those with public hospitals are barred, or be forced to close since they would be operating without the required transfer agreement in place.
Eight other states require abortion clinics to have transfer agreements, including Nebraska and Wisconsin, and abortion rights groups fear Ohio's crack down could be replicated elsewhere.
"This is a brand new idea," said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. "It wouldn't be surprising if next year we saw this restriction appear in other states." Continued...