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Cincinnati's only abortion provider could be forced to close

Posted at 11:59 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 10:29:30-05

A doctor’s resignation could cost Planned Parenthood’s Mount Auburn health center its license to operate, forcing it to quickly secure a replacement physician or close its surgical center.

The closure would leave local patients seeking surgical abortions with two remaining options: One in Dayton and one in Hamilton.

What’s the problem? Ohio law requires that all facilities providing surgical abortions have agreements with nearby hospitals to take their patients in case of complications. However, it also blocks public hospitals from entering into such agreements.

Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, which operates the Mount Auburn health center, was granted an exception to the rule in 2016: It need not have an agreement with a hospital as long as it could find four physicians to provide emergency care.

On Dec. 22, 2019, one of the four informed Planned Parenthood he could not continue.

RELATED: Feeling the strain of lost state, federal funding, Planned Parenthood closes two Cincinnati health centers

Ohio Director of Health Amy Acton filed a motion to revoke the Mount Auburn clinic’s license four days later.

But the news stayed under wraps until Monday, when the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life published it in a daily newsletter and urged subscribers to call the remaining three doctors still contracted with Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio.

CEO Kersha Deibel vowed to fight the motion in a statement hours later.

“Nothing changes,” she said. “Planned Parenthood stays open, we continue providing abortion services and all other services. In the meantime, our attorneys will be requesting an administrative hearing on ODH’s proposed actions.”

Losing the Mount Auburn location would leave Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio at half-strength compared to the same time in 2019. At the start of that year, it operated six health centers. By November, two had become casualties of state and federal budget cuts targeting abortion providers.

“I think it’s a tragedy,” University of Cincinnati student Antoinette Jackson said of the news. “It takes away a lot of options for women in this area.”