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Cincinnati's only abortion provider could stay open after all

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Posted at 2:47 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 14:47:38-05

CINCINNATI — The city’s only abortion provider could stay open after all.

Planned Parenthood’s Mount Auburn health center secured a fourth doctor and refiled its variance, CEO Kersha Deibel said Friday.

The future of the clinic has been uncertain after a doctor resigned, forcing the center to find another doctor or close its doors.

Ohio law states an abortion provider must have agreements with nearby hospitals to take patients in case of an emergency, but the law also blocks public hospitals from entering the agreement. Since 2016, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region has operated the clinic under an exception known as a variance: It need not have an agreement with a hospital as long as it could find four physicians to provide emergency care.

Ohio Health Director Amy Acton recently rescinded that variance when the clinic informed the state in December it no longer had four backup doctors.

Planned Parenthood has requested a hearing regarding the variance, according to Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Melanie Amato. No date has been set for the hearing, and for now, the clinic is allowed to operate as normal.

Deibel released the following statement:

“We promised our doors would stay open, no matter what. Today, I’m happy to share that we’ve secured a fourth back-up physician and refiled our variance. Our license remains in place and patients can continue accessing abortion services at our Cincinnati Surgical Center in Mt. Auburn. Make no mistake, laws that restrict access like this written transfer agreement requirement are medically unnecessary and designed to prevent Ohioans from accessing basic reproductive health care. Regardless, we jump through every hoop politicians put in our way in order to ensure patients can continue accessing safe, legal abortion in Ohio.”

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.