Greater Columbus Right to Life recently learned that the Founder's abortion clinic, where the medical license has been under question for more than a year had applied for a variance from Ohio's ambulatory surgical facility law requiring that all ambulatory surgical facilities have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. The provision applies to all ambulatory surgical facilities, a classification that includes (but is not limited to) abortion clinics. In September, the clinic applied for a variance from the State Department of Health, noting that when Grant Hospital declined to re-sign the transfer agreement with the hospital, no other hospital would enter into one.
The clinic noted that their two surgeons, Dr. Harley Blank and Dr. Karl Schaffer, both have courtesy admitting privileges with Grant Hospital, located just minutes from the clinic and within a 20-25 minute drive from their homes. Dr. Blank, who will turn 78 in April of 2017, is the medical director of the clinic. Dr. Karl Schaffer, age 70, is a second (of three) owners of Downtown Gynecologists, and the other surgeon who practicesat the Founder's Health Clinic. The clinic's manager Terrie Hubbard, one of the principals at T&S Management, signed onto an agreement with Dr. Blank and Dr. Schaffer to serve as on-call physicians if one is needed.
If you are confused, let us explain. The clinic's agreement states that on days that Dr. Blank is performing abortion surgeries, if an emergency arises and a woman needs to go to the hospital Dr. Schaffer will serve as the on-call doctor and admit her at Grant Hospital for emergency treatment. If Dr. Schaffer is performing abortion surgeries and an emergency arises, Dr. Blank will serve as the on-call doctor and admit her at Grant Hospital for emergency treatment.
However, acknowledging that this is a somewhat convoluted system (it means that neither can be out of the area, sick, or on vacation), they have designated their good friend, Dr. David Burkons of Akron to serve as a back-up on-call physician. Not noted in the application (or the ODH's response, see below) is the fact that Dr. Burkons was recently exposed as being under investigation by the Ohio Medical Board for what amounts to operating a narcotics and controlled substances pill mill from his office, where he admits to signing blank prescription pads for staff members to fill out. This, by the way, appears to have been at a third abortion clinic once owned/operated by Terrie Hubbard, which was closed down by Ohio Department of Health Officials and the DEA because the clinic was, among other things, stealing patient blood. Dr. Burkons has since re-opened the clinic under his own name. A second clinic owned/operated by Ms. Hubbard is located in Toledo and is only operating because of a ruling by an appeals court judge staying a different order by the Ohio Department of Health to close.
It is not surprising that today the Columbus Dispatch reports that the Ohio Department of Health has issued a response, denying Founder's' application for a variance. Note: The ODH denial letter does not include in its justification the above information about Dr. Burkons or the Toledo office. It does, however, note that having a third physician available to them locally would be acceptable, but that a physician in Akron is not necessarily a sufficient back-up provider.
Abortion supporters are going to try to paint this as an instance of the Ohio Department of Health targeting a safe, legal abortion provider with unfair laws. However, similar problems do not seem to be besieging Columbus' other abortion facility - Planned Parenthood. Abortion advocates would do well to consider what they are supporting when they stand up for Founder's Women's Health Clinic. Aside from the primary issue at hand (the intentional destruction of unborn human life), the conditions under which this clinic are operating make it a "worst of the worst" as far as medical facilities.
The clinic is clearly in a decline, owing nearly a million dollars to city, state, and federal taxing agencies. It had to resort to crowd-funding in order to pay the $250 application permit and $750 inspection fee to join the national abortion federation and starting a tee-shirt business in order to raise enough money to buy billboard advertising space. We've also covered exhaustively their serious history with hiring sex offenders and the filthy conditions at the clinic.
That said, this will not be an open and shut case where the clinic is closed down, for all that it should be.
It seems very likely that Founder's will fight the Department of Health's denial of the variance, either by identifying a third local doctor to serve as a back-up or by litigating the case, as has been done in Toledo and Dayton, with much legal success.
For that reason, we are inviting all of our supporters to join us this Saturday in a special day of prayer and fasting to end abortion in central Ohio and the world. If you would like to join us, you may join our team this Saturday, November 19th. Let us know if you can pray with us, pray from home, and what you will fast from.
Greater Columbus Right to Life has been laser-focused on ending abortion in the Greater Columbus Community by 2020 since 2008. We were told that it couldn't be done, but since then we have seen two of four local clinics voluntarily close, more than 8,000 babies have been spared from abortion, and countless volunteers have prayed and fasted for the dignity of all human life. We know that the day is coming when this clinic will close, and we hope no one is on the sidelines when it happens. Join us, pray for us, and - if you like the work that we are doing, consider supporting us today.