Ohio bishop asks hospital to reconsider rescuing non-compliant abortion clinic

Baby Credit Unsplash   CNA Unsplash.

Hospital leaders should rescind their agreement with the last abortion clinic in Toledo that could save it from closing, Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo has said.

"The God of life does not desire that a board of a hospital, whose mission is to heal and sustain life, should themselves facilitate keeping open an abortion clinic whose mission is to destroy and terminate life," Bishop Thomas told CNA March 6.

The diocese has launched a petition at www.petition.life asking hospital leadership to reverse their decision.

In a March 3 opinion essay for the Toledo Blade newspaper, Bishop Thomas called on all people of good will to petition the hospital board "to overturn their hasty decision and to renew their commitment to the logic and life worthy of their health care system."

Ohio abortion clinic Capital Care Network had been facing a license revocation because state rules require ambulatory surgical centers to have a patient transfer agreement with a local hospital.

On Feb. 6 the Ohio Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision sided with the Ohio Department of Health's 2014 revocation of the clinic's license. The clinic agreement with University of Michigan Health Center in Ann Arbor, 52 miles away, did not qualify as "local," officials said.

On Feb. 12 ProMedica Toledo Hospital's board of trustees signed a patient transfer agreement with Capital Care Network. About 50 protesters had gathered to promote the agreement earlier that day, including a group from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. Several smaller groups of abortion opponents also demonstrated.

ProMedica spokesman Tedra White said the effort put in writing "an existing practice to provide emergency medical care to all who need it." Entering the agreement "aligns with ProMedica's mission and values, including our focus on being a health system dedicated to the well-being of northwest Ohio and our belief that no one is beyond the reach of life-saving health care."

"Furthermore, we believe that all individuals should have access to the best care in their neighborhoods," White said.

Their stance drew objection from Bishop Thomas.

"There is simply no getting around it: the decision of ProMedica's board of trustees to sign the transfer agreement means that unborn babies will continue to be slaughtered in Toledo at Capital Care," the bishop wrote.

Bishop Thomas said it makes no sense that a hospital should make an agreement for the rare patient who might be transferred from Capital Care, when the direct result of the agreement will be "the sadder reality of the hundreds of innocent babies whose lives will be snuffed out each year in that clinic."

ProMedica would treat any woman coming into their emergency room without a transfer agreement in any case, he added, making the agreement unnecessary.

"That decision does not reflect the purpose and mission of a hospital, to heal and sustain human life," he said. "That decision instead facilitates the very destruction of the weakest of our human family, the unborn in the womb."

The claim that the agreement aligns with a life-saving mission "defies logic," the bishop said, because it "facilitates the denial of 'life-saving health care' for the most vulnerable, unborn babies."

Bishop Thomas cited the words of Pope Francis: "In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science."

The abortion clinic has filed a motion asking the Ohio State Supreme Court to reconsider its decision given the existence of the agreement with the hospital.

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Attorneys for the State of Ohio have argued that Capital Care Network should still lose its license and apply for a new one.

"The clinic's promise to come into compliance now does not change the past," they said in a March 5 legal motion against reconsidering the case. "It rightly lost its old license."

An attorney for the abortion clinic provider, Jennifer Branch, objected to the obstacles to reinstatement.

"This whole process is simply unfair and not designed to provide better health care to women," she told The Toledo Blade.

In 2013 the University of Toledo Medical Center said it would not renew its transfer agreement with the abortion clinic. That year, the state legislature barred public hospitals from entering into such agreements.

In recent years the number of abortion clinics in Ohio has fallen from 16 to eight. There are three in the Cleveland-Akron area, two in Columbus and one in Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati, according to the Toledo Blade.

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