Ohio clinics fight anti-choice laws

An anti-choice Ohio law states that clinics must have an agreement with nearby hospitals that states they will take the clinic’s patients in case of emergencies, despite the fact that hospitals are already required to take patients in emergency medical situations. This TRAP law (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) like similar laws in eight other states is an attempt to target reproductive health clinics that offer abortion services. After being denied a variance to the patient-transfer agreement law, an Ohio family planning clinic has reapplied to the State Department of Health.

The Southwest Ohio clinic that applied for the exception did so because they already have backup doctors available in case of emergencies. This reasoning was not enough to be granted an exception and the clinic’s request for variance was denied, however, the state’s health director gave the clinic an additional 30 days to reapply for a variance. If this second variance is denied the clinic faces the possibility of shutting down which will further decrease access to reproductive health care for the women of Southwest Ohio.

This anti-choice law is medically unnecessary because public hospitals are not allowed to partake in patient-transfer agreements in the first place. Not only are complications rare but in the case of an emergency, an emergency room is required to accept anyone- patient-transfer agreement or not. Additionally, the director of the State’s Department of Health, a political figure, has overarching power in accepting or denying variances as well as approving patient-transfer agreements. This leaves the decisions of clinics in the hands of politicians rather than doctors who know what is best for patients, particularly in emergencies.

Similar patient-transfer agreement laws are found in eight other states: Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Ohio clinic is working towards filing for another variance and ensuring they meet the requirements of the state while also hoping to ensure they are eligible to continue functioning.

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