A handful of demonstrators turned out Tuesday outside the downtown Premier Health headquarters to deliver petitions signed by more than 3,300 people seeking a transfer agreement between the hospital and Kettering’s Women’s Med Center, Dayton’s only abortion provider.
Women’s Med has been unable to get a transfer agreement from local hospitals, and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) revoked and refused to renew the center’s ambulatory surgical facility license.
Without the transfer agreement, ODH has refused to renew the center’s ambulatory surgical facility license. The Second District Court of Appeals sided with ODH, and Women’s Med Center has appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court about the clinic’s license revocation.
Attorneys for the Women’s Med Center have filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court in its fight to remain open.
Kelley Freeman, a NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio field manager, coordinated the event on Tuesday and gathered with the rest of the demonstrators.
“Abortion access is a key component of comprehensive health care access for women in the Greater Dayton area,” Freeman said. “Eliminating abortion access would be a setback for the city and state’s programs to reduce infant and maternal mortality both locally and across the state.”
She said women would have to travel to Cincinnati, Columbus or Toledo for access to abortion providers if Women’s Med closes.
In the Dayton region, neither of the companies that own most area hospitals, Premier and Kettering Health, have agreed to a transfer agreement with Women’s Med.
Premier Health released a statement to this news organization on Tuesday addressing the situation.
“We respect the right of citizens to participate in a peaceful rally. Premier Health’s ownership includes a Catholic organization,” the statement said. “Accordingly, under governing documents, Premier Health is prohibited from entering into certain arrangements, which include transfer agreements with this type of provider. Premier Health hospitals accept any patient from any source who presents with an emergency medical condition.”
The demonstration was peaceful on Tuesday and Premier security allowed the demonstration to go on outside, but said that the group could not enter the building to deliver the signed petitions nor could they take delivery of them.
The Rev. Terry Williams, of the Orchard Hill United Church of Christ, said he was disappointed that the petitions were not accepted, but “it is important that the message continues to be delivered for everyone to hear.”
Dayton Right to Life Executive Director Margie Christie echoed her previous comments about the situation and said, “the Ohio Department of Health and the lower courts have rendered their decisions on this case. This facility’s license revocation should be upheld and its doors shut for good.”
She said of the protest at Premier on Tuesday, “but again, it’s an exercise in futility and an attempt to bully a business into compromising its principles.”
Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said he believes the ODH ruling will be upheld by the courts.
“I continue to have confidence that the state law will be upheld by the Supreme Court,” Antani said. “Bullying our region’s largest private employer shows how desperate those who are anti-life are. I look forward to Haskell’s clinic shutting its doors.”
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