- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio has licensed a clinic that plans to start offering surgical abortions while other abortion providers wrangle with the state over backup-care requirements that could make it more difficult for them to continue, state records show.

Dr. David Burkons opened the Northeast Ohio Women’s Center in Cuyahoga Falls after a different abortion clinic there closed in 2013. The center has offered abortion-inducing drugs for more than a year, and its license as an outpatient surgery facility was approved in late June and backdated to March, the Ohio Department of Health confirmed Wednesday.

Abortion-rights activists say it is the first new abortion clinic to be licensed in Ohio in several years, a period in which the state has added restrictions on abortion providers and at least a half-dozen clinics closed or reduced services.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, called the licensing “an important victory” but criticized that it wasn’t approved until more than a year after the initial application.

Burkons said he hopes to start surgical abortions in late July but first needs to line up nurses after going through two inspections and waiting for a license. He said the inspectors are fair but questioned whether the Department of Health, under Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration, intentionally moved more slowly on his center’s application than those for surgery facilities in the same category that don’t perform abortions.

“I suspect that I was being discriminated against because of being an abortion provider,” Burkons said.

The Department of Health said all providers in that category, known as ambulatory surgical facilities or ASFs, have to follow the same rules.

“ODH takes the time necessary to ensure that ASFs are in compliance with these state laws and regulations that are designed to protect the health and safety of Ohio residents,” spokeswoman Melanie Amato said in an email.

Ohio Right to Life criticized the newly licensed facility as a remade version of the earlier clinic there that was closed after inspectors found safety and staffing violations.

“All they did was dress it up and put a different name on it,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of the anti-abortion group.

The Cuyahoga Falls center is among a dozen Ohio locations that provide surgical or medical abortions, or both.

Two of those clinics have gone back and forth with the state over requirements related to backup care. In Toledo, where Burkons says he is the remaining clinic’s only doctor, a judge concluded that abortion restrictions imposed were unconstitutional, allowing the facility to remain open as the state attorney general’s office appeals that ruling.

In southwest Ohio, the state denied the Dayton clinic’s latest request for an exception to rules requiring a patient-transfer agreement with a hospital in case of emergencies. The operators planned to re-apply.

___

Find Kantele Franko on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/kantele10 .

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide