Groups want anti-abortion activist removed from state medical board

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, says he has no plans to step down.

Liberal groups are pushing to unseat attorney Michael Gonidakis from the State Medical Board of Ohio, a powerful agency that licenses and disciplines doctors, including those who provide abortions.

Gonidakis chairs the medical board and is also president of Ohio Right to Life.

“…We believe that Mr. Gonidakis has a professional conflict of interest so profound that it cannot be remedied as long as he continues in the two posts he now holds,” according to a letter sent to the medical board and signed by 10 groups.

The move comes three weeks after Dayton Right to Life filed a disciplinary complaint against doctors at Women’s Med Center, an abortion clinic in Kettering. Ohio Right to Life issued a press release on the complaint and Gonidakis forwarded the news release and a personal note to Sandy Theis, executive director of ProgressOhio.

“This personal note clearly indicates that Mr. Gonidakis has reached a conclusion about the doctors named in a complaint pending before a state regulatory board for which he serves as president,” the letter said. “Equally clear, Mr. Gonidakis reached this conclusion without the benefit of hearing from the doctors, the patients or others with first-hand knowledge of the facts of the case.”

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Gonidakis said Monday that he will recuse himself from hearing the Women’s Med Center case.

Three weeks ago, Gonidakis said he had no plans to recuse himself.

“When we spoke earlier in the month I did not have an analysis of Ohio Ethics laws and conflicts of interests laws. In the weeks since we spoke, I have had the opportunity to research and reflect on the law. My decision to recuse myself is to avoid even the appearance of impropriety,” Gonidakis told this newspaper.

He added that he has no plans to resign from the medical board and he will decide whether to recuse himself on future cases involving abortion providers as the cases come up.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich appointed Gonidakis to one of three seats on the medical board that represents health care consumers.

Theis, who supports abortion rights, organized the letter to the medical board and ProgressOhio also filed a formal complaint against Gonidakis with the Ohio Ethics Commission to force him off the medical board.

Other groups signing the letter to the medical board include: Doctors for Health Care Solutions, Common Cause Ohio, Ohio National Organization for Women, Innovation Ohio and the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice did not sign on. But NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle previously said in a written statement of the complaint against he Kettering clinic: “The State Medical Board cannot be impartial while led by Mike Gonidakis, President of Ohio Right to Life. The board should reject the complaint. This is a political witch hunt. This is not how medical professionals should be treated in Ohio.”

Complaints filed with the State Medical Board of Ohio are confidential while under investigation. Ohio has 47,000 physicians actively licensed in the state.

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