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Reproductive Rights Advocates Call On Health Systems To Prevent Abortion Clinic's Closure

Samuel Worley

Efforts to convince Dayton health systems to sign a state-mandated patient transfer agreement with the Miami Valley’s last abortion clinic remain unsuccessful, despite increased pressure from some politicians, and an ongoing petition campaign.

Clinic officials say without such an agreement, the facility may close.

In May, the Dayton City Commission approved a resolution urging Kettering Health Network or Premier Health to sign a transfer agreement. And, last week, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio delivered a similiar petition signed by more than 3,000 people to Premier’s headquarters.

No action has since been taken.

Both health systems say their religious affiliations prevent them from signing an agreement with the clinic. Kettering Health Network was founded by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Premier Health issued the following statement:

“We acknowledge that this is a difficult subject with strong emotions on both sides. Our focus will always remain on providing the best care possible for all patients in our community. The requirement that abortion clinics have transfer agreements with hospitals is a requirement of the State of Ohio and was decided at the state level. In the case of Premier Health, and as reported previously in the media, our ownership includes a Catholic organization. Under our governing documents, we have long been – and continue to be – prohibited from entering into certain arrangements, which include transfer agreements with this type of provider. However, our hospitals accept any patient from any source who presents with an emergency medical condition.”

Kelley Freeman of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio says she’s frustrated by the health groups' statements over the transfer agreement.

“It doesn't mean anything for patient care. It's only a piece of paper," says Freeman. "It's bureaucracy that we don't think is medically necessary.”

The state law requiring transfer agreements has been challenged by abortion-rights activists since its passage in 2013.

Women’s Med Center served more than 2,000 patients last year. The clinic remains open pending a decision from the Ohio Supreme Court.

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April Laissle is a graduate of Ohio University and comes to WYSO from WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio where she worked as a weekend host and reporter. There, she reported on everything from food insecurity to 4-H chicken competitions. April interned at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, where she focused on health reporting. She also worked on The Broad Experience, a New-York based podcast about women and workplace issues. In her spare time, April loves traveling, trying new recipes and binge-listening to podcasts. April is a Florida native and has been adjusting to Ohio weather since 2011.