2018 will be remembered for many things, but one of them will undoubtedly be the #MeToo movement. At its best, the movement has brought wrongdoings, especially against women and the vulnerable, into the light in a spirit that (unintentionally) echoes the Gospel, "So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known."
Have there been false or overblown accusations and reactions? Absolutely, but as noted by Augustine, "The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself."
While the impacts of the movement have been visible at almost every level: from the halls of government, in our churches and schools, up and down the corporate ladder, and to the red carpets of Hollywood, there is one place that has been immune to accountability: the abortion industry. Aside from a few narrowly read publications tailored to the faith or pro-life movement and subscribers to watchdog groups like GCRTL, there is virtually no coverage of the bad actions and bad actors within the abortion industry. More tellingly, there has been no refutation of illegal actions and horrifically bad actors by the abortion industry itself. Rather, it has been radio silence. The hypocrisy is stunning.
Let me be clear: there are bad actors and bad actions in every field. But when a lone actor who is unaffiliated with any pro-life organization does something illegal (like this), every pro-life leader denounces the actions, reminds the community and volunteers of our standards, and shares our commitment to peaceful pro-life action. Nonetheless, the story is told far and wide in various media often with a narrative that blames the action on unrelated groups for creating cultural polarization. To be perfectly clear: the pro-life community should hold itself to the highest of standards because what we are standing for is the dignity of every human life.
But what is astonishing is the silence of abortion industry leaders in the face of horrific actions. Their silence says everything. Anyone who truly cares about women's health should be the first to speak up against illegal actions and especially horrific actors in their business. Let's look at a handful of especially egregious or recent situations here in Ohio.
The list could go on and on and on with examples. If pro-abortion organizations and individuals want to position themselves as champions of women and the underserved, they could start by having the courage to speak out against these kind of incidents. That they do not supports something pro-life advocates have been saying for years: these types of illegal and unethical behaviors are the industry norm in abortion, not isolated incidents. In the rare occasion that such grisly conditions are revealed (ahem, like in the Gosnell case), the public narrative is that it is actually the fault of pro-life organizations that Gosnell happened, because they advocate for regulations of the industry. It is crazy.
So, if the industry is not going to clean itself up, and if the mainstream media is not going to hold them accountable, and if state agencies either lack the political will or are immobilized by state regulations and laws that tie actions up in red tape and litigation, who is holding the abortion industry accountable?
You might wonder why Greater Columbus Right to Life would send out a piece like this just a few days before Christmas. We are doing it, as we do everything - because someone has to do it. However, if we are to continue to succeed, we need your help. We are currently working very hard on a campaign to recruit volunteers who can join our ministry. We are also - like many other groups - trying to make our year-end fundraising needs so that we can focus on our next project (and it is going to be a big one). If everyone who reads our emails regularly were to donate just $50, we would meet our year-end needs in a day and if everyone in central Ohio who plans to attend the March for Life or the Roe Remembrance were to pray with us just once a month, we would line the sidewalks of every abortion clinic in Columbus and change lives forever.
Ohio’s Medical Board Revokes License of Ohio’s First Abortion Provider
On November 14th, the Ohio Medical Board finalized the revocation/permanent surrender of Dr. Harley Blank’s license to practice medicine. He signed a consent decree for the permanent revocation of his medical license on October 25, 2018.
We do not yet have confirmation of why Mr. Blank’s medical license was revoked, but there is no doubt that a large part of the reason has been the extensive work done by Greater Columbus Right to Life staff and volunteers for the past five years to uncover the true conditions of the clinic, refer injured patients to legal counsel and state regulators. We have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make this a reality, and it is paying off.
We have known for a considerable amount of time that Founder’s is not a safe place for women or their unborn children, and we have observed increasingly erratic behavior on the part of Dr. Blank, who joins another Founder’s abortion provider – who is currently serving time in federal prison for child pornography – as having his medical license permanently revoked.
We have requested supporting documentation for this situation from applicable entities, and we have reason to believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
You can read a copy of the Medical Board revocation here. You can check for updated information and documents on this page, as we locate them. You can support our work here.
Please consider donating today in support of the work that we do. We operate on a very small budget, and last Friday announced a year-end campaign to raise $30,000 to continue our work. So far, we are about ten percent of the way to that goal. Your donation of any size will help us to make that a reality.
Finally, please consider remembering Mr. Blank and all abortion providers in your prayers. Decades of work in the abortion industry carries a heavy burden to their souls, and our greatest wish is not just that their deeds are uncovered and they face civil justice for what they have done, but that they experience a true conversion of heart and choose life and life eternal.
Think it can't happen here? Think again
Over the past two weeks, more than 300 in central Ohio have come together to watch the #GosnellMovie at events sponsored or cosponsored by Greater Columbus Right to Life. Hundreds more in the local community have gone (or will go) to other showings in the area. In fact, a full list of the theaters showing the movie can be seen online. If you have not seen the movie, we strongly encourage that you go see it. Here is what a few locals had to say after watching the movie at our sneak-peek in September.
But one thing I want to make exceedingly clear, do not think that a Gosnell-type situation could not happen here in central Ohio. Because, even though Ohio reportedly has some of the strictest abortion regulations in the state, failure to meet the standards set by the laws is often met with inaction, excessively long legal practices, and penalties that are abandoned or reduced so as not to have any practical ramifications. Don't believe us? This is a document we put together several weeks ago, citing actual examples from clinic inspection reports.
But last week, something happened that was almost unbelievable and it shows just how desperately we need for groups like Greater Columbus Right to Life and other local organizations to continue serving in education, advocacy, and watchdog positions. Because what happened in Ohio last week is, quite frankly, unbelievable.
Warning - Gosnell Film Spoiler Alerts follow.
One of the shocking takeaways from the film is how the abuses at the Gosnell facility were able to continue because of political decisions and media coverage that tends toward protecting anything termed as "reproductive rights." And as a pro-life organization, we have been frustrated by local media who have refused to cover atrocities like filthy clinics hiring known sex offenders and then not reporting when that sex offender was arrested and indicted for child pornography. Think we might be exaggerating? Check the Toledo coverage of the indictment, and there was zero Columbus coverage, even though Mr. Michaelis was frequently working at Founder's.
You might have read out previous coverage of the fine that Capital Care Network of Toledo received from the Ohio Department of Health. The fine was charged after a patient's abortion was halted because the doctor thought he might have perforated her bowel. This is a very dangerous medical emergency. Rather than call for an ambulance, a non-medical staffer of the clinic drove the woman to the hospital and dropped her off at the emergency room. Here is our coverage of the situation, which was appealed by the clinic. It took nearly a year for the appeal to get a hearing, which it did last June. The defenses of the clinic were laughable, including that a) since the patient's bowel was not actually perforated, there wasn't really an emergency so there should be no fine, and b) that the clinic has not been making a profit for many years and this fine will put them out of business. This past Friday, a hearing officer made a recommendation to the Ohio Department of Health to reduce the fine to $3,000.
Here are a few things to consider from the actual case.
- First, the clinic was notified in a letter on August 21 that it had ten days to respond to fix the deficiencies and 30 days to request an appeal. It responded with the deficiencies and requested an appeal on September 8th, 2017. They did not even bother to follow the proscribed timeline to correct their deficiencies. This is typical of the clinics that have been run under the same management - no response, late response, etc.
- Second, the clinic is owned and operated in part by a woman who has been operating various abortion clinics in Ohio and Indiana under different names and DBAs for almost a decade the track record is NOT good. A few of them.
So what can we do? Well, the first thing we would encourage you to do is to contact the Ohio Department of Health and let them know that it is not appropriate to let someone with Terrie Hubbard's track record off with a minor fine. By reducing this fine the ODH will be signaling that women who enter these facilities they are setting up a do not consider women's health to be 13 times less important for similar violations against the general public! Contact information: Director Lance Himes: Director@odh.ohio.gov or call (614) 466-2253.
The Second thing you can do is to consider joining our team, which serves as a watchdog at local clinics and can help to make sure that when things go wrong, someone knows. You can do this by either volunteering with us or making a donation.
About 160 gathered on Tuesday, September 25th for a special sneak-peek of the Gosnell Movie sponsored by Greater Columbus Right to Life and Citizens for Community Values. In addition to getting the opportunity to see the movie before its October 12th nationwide opening, attendees were able to hear from film producer Ann McElhinney.
The movie shares exactly how the story of Gosnell’s now infamous abortion clinic was raided by police, the FBI, and the DEA on suspicions of running a narcotic pill mill. Once inside, investigators were shocked at what they found – a filthy mess of human and animal excrement, dirty equipment, and fetal remains facilitated by years of disregard by Pennsylvania state inspectors. It predominantly follows the investigation by a local (catholic) narcotics cop and a prosecutor portrayed as a pro-choice, up-and-coming on the political scene, mother of five through the investigation and trial of Kermit Gosnell.
The movie, while not graphic in the sense that one might expect, did not shy away of showing the horror of what investigators experienced. Rather than relying on portraying images of the youngest victims, the movie successfully used the actors’ emotions to relay the serious heartbreak of the situation. The result resonated with the crowd.
Producer Ann McElhiney shared that while she had started looking at the story as a reporter and writer, she herself had a change of heart on abortion while producing the screenplay and the movie. “I was always, well, let’s say neutral on the subject of abortion, which basically meant that I was in favor of it. But after writing the book and directing the film, I had a personal change of heart.”
If you missed the sneak-peek preview, it is not too late. Gosnell: The Story of America’s Biggest Serial Killer will open in theaters across the nation on October 12th. You can find a local theater by visiting www.gosnellmovie.com. If there is not a local theater playing the movie, please consider calling your local chain theater and requesting that it open in your community. Although the movie is a factual portrayal of the investigation and trial of Gosnell, it is running into difficulties with distribution and finding theaters willing to show the film. We have already seen stories – NPR refusing to advertise the film if it referred to ‘abortion’ at all, a showing in Texas being cancelled at the demand of Planned Parenthood, and similar sorts of discrimination. We have been told that there is a national attempt to keep this out of theaters, because those with a pro-abortion agenda know that if this movie is picked up by 600 theaters nationwide by October it will also run on Netflix – where millions of people around the world will hear about the story and start to speak up.
For this reason, we are encouraging every single GCRTL supporter to contact their local theater (especially AMC, Cinemark, Regal, and other large national chains) and ask them to show the Gosnell Movie. Then, you need to follow through by going to watch it. Trust us - you will not regret it!
This year’s report shows a concerning increase in the number of abortions performed, both as a state and locally. In all, the number of abortions statewide increased from 20,672 abortions in 2016 to 20,893 abortions in 2017. The net increase was split with about 1/3 of the increase in abortions coming from women living inside the state of Ohio and about 2/3 from women with a permanent residence outside of the state. It is not possible to tell from the statistics if those are women who are in Ohio temporarily (like college students) or those who are traveling here to seek an abortion.
Statewide, the most dramatic number of abortions continue to occur on babies at 9 weeks gestation or less – more than 50%. Other gestation ranges each saw a modest decline, with about a 10% reduction (from 508 to 454) in abortions on babies who had reached 19 weeks or greater gestation. One abortion was reported as being performed on an unborn child between 25 and 36 weeks. About 11 percent of the women having abortions reported being married, and 7 percent did not report their marital status. Just under 48% of women having abortions identified as white/Caucasian, 40 percent identified as being black/African American, and the remainder identified as Asian/PI (3.5%), or other/preferred not to report (9%). As in years past, the vast majority of abortions happened in Ambulatory Surgical Facilities (20,710), with 102 occurring in the hospital and 81 happening in non-surgical clinics (most likely an abortion-pill only clinic that operated for a few months in NE Ohio in 2017 before getting a surgical license). Overall, the use of the abortion pill has increased in Ohio since the FDA extended the pill’s use to ten weeks. Use of the abortion pill has increased from about 5% in 2015 to about 18% in 2016 to 25.5% in 2017.
Locally, abortion numbers were disappointing both as a region and in half of the counties that make up the geographical area covered by Greater Columbus Right to Life (Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Morrow, Union, and Pickaway Counties). The total number of abortions performed in Franklin County (the only regional ambulatory surgical clinic) increased from 4,476 in 2016 to 4,844 in 2017. It is worth noting, however, that local abortion numbers have tended to be very cyclical. For the first time since at least 2003, one abortion was reported as being performed in Delaware County (we cannot know where, but most likely at a hospital. It is worth noting that some hospitals report emergency procedures to save a woman’s life as induced abortion, a supposition which is supported but not guaranteed by the report of “other surgical” for this procedure). By county of the mother’s residence, the number of abortions increased in Delaware (from 132 to 149), Franklin (from 3158 to 3258), Licking (from 156 to 161), and Union (from 38 to 44). Counties with a decline included Fairfield (118 from 149), Madison (42 from 44), Morrow (20 from 24) and Pickaway (34 down from 42). Regionally, the number of abortions performed via non-surgical methods was 33.7%, a dramatic increase from 2016 (21%) and 2015 (5.3%). Of women who live in Franklin County who had abortions, about 36% identified as being white/Caucasian and about 45% identified as black/African American. Similarly, 15 women having abortions in Franklin County reported as being 15 or younger.
Several years ago, GCRTL started reporting on the abortion rate locally. Last year, we averaged about 12 babies lost to abortion each day. Sadly, the rate this year will climb to about 13 babies each day. However, this year we’ve also decided to look at the abortion rate in context of the live birth rate. In doing so, we’ve compared birth rates to abortion rates in every county in Ohio for the past ten years. We will release the project’s statewide numbers in coming weeks. For now, however, we want to share some of the local numbers. We compiled the numbers by adding the number of reported abortions to the number of live births and determining the percentage represented by abortion. It is important to note that the numbers do not tell the whole story, as miscarriage deaths are not recorded prior to 20 weeks. Fetal deaths after 20 weeks gestation are recorded in Ohio, but not necessarily broken down by county in an accessible way. So miscarriages are NOT included. However, we think that the figure gives us a new way to think about the local impact of abortion and to look at the trends.
Here is what we see locally. In Franklin County, about 19 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Delaware County, about 8 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Morrow County, about 9 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Union County, about 8 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Madison County, about 11 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Pickaway County, about 12 of every 100 babies were aborted. In Fairfield County, about 10 of every 100 babies were aborted. Statewide, about 17 of every 100 babies were aborted. The highest rate in the state was Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) with about 34 of every 100 babies aborted. The lowest rate in the state was Lawrence County, where just over 1 of every 100 babies was aborted. The Ohio Department of health determines the abortion ratio as a number of abortions per 1000 live births rather than as a percentage of the combined total, so if you are looking at their chart (page 5 of the report), it will be different. The Department of Health calculated the abortion rate as the number of abortions per 1000 women of child-bearing age (15-44) in 2017 was unchanged from 2016, with about 8.9 abortions per 1000 women.
While looking at the data provides an interesting snapshot into what is occurring in our neighborhood, it is only useful to the extent that we have adequate resources to go into the community with programs like sidewalk ministry, education, and referrals. It is not too late for us to reduce the number of abortions in 2018, but we need your help. To join our prayer program, visit www.gcrtl.org/pray. We also need to raise another $30,000 through the end of the year. If you can donate to make that happen, you can be taken to our secure giving partner to make a donation here. If you would like to bring one of our educational programs to your church, school, or group, you can also email us, here.
Today, a Montgomery County judge ruled to uphold a 2016 Department of Health order to close the notorious Women's Med abortion clinic. The clinic is operated by the notorious Martin Haskell, who is partially credited with the surgical procedure known as partial birth abortion, which was so barbaric that it is not outlawed across the United States.
The judge ordered that a stay (legal term for a halt or postponement) on the ODH order be lifted in 30 days, unless the clinic files for an appeal. That gives the clinic 30 days to either close down or appeal the decision.
We will have some more commentary in the next few days (including some observations on the ridiculousness that an unlicensed clinic has been able to operate for two years during a dragged-out legal process and that the judge gave them 30 days to continue operating illegally rather than order the immediate closure subject to appeal), but for now you can review the case online.
They Have City Government.... But We Have You!
We knew two summers ago that the abortion industry has Columbus City government in its pocket when Council Member Liz Brown proposed a local law to make it illegal to do anything that would “annoy or inconvenience” an abortion clinic owner, employee, patient, or other individual within a fifteen foot perimeter of an abortion clinic (except the proposal used "reproductive health care facility").The bill was so egregiously unconstitutional that the ACLU stepped forward to oppose the bill, noting in their testimony that despite opposing the unconstitutional bill, it was a staunch supporter of “abortion rights.” Unfazed, City Council members forged ahead until the 11th hour, when rumor is that someone from the DC office of Planned Parenthood or NARAL called and told them it was a bad idea, and they scrambled to “fix” it. We've covered that issue pretty thoroughly in the past.
That is why it was disappointing, albeit not especially surprising, when I received an email from Columbus City Council announcing its latest press release, “CITY OFFICIALS COLLABORATE TO PRODUCE STUDY ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF REDUCED ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE.”
Curious, and remembering our last run-in with City Council on the matter of "Reproductive Health Care," I opened the press release and read on. Council Member Liz Brown and City Auditor Meghan Kilgore jointly wrote a study on Title X in Ohio. One sentence in particular caught my eye, “Planned Parenthood is the sole Title X provider in nine Ohio counties: Athens, Lucas, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Richland, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne.” To be clear, this is a press release from two Columbus City officials that is so focused on protecting Planned Parenthood’s access to Title X funding that it explores “problems” in counties that are not even contiguous to Columbus. The entire study only mentions Columbus three times (the cover letter uses it another seven times, mostly in relation to the positions that the officials hold). By contrast, the study mentions Planned Parenthood more than 20 times in just five pages, suggesting that it is pushing a “study” that is more of a defense of Planned Parenthood. Oddly enough, while the “study” gives every appearance of being a piece of Planned Parenthood propaganda, it does not cite Planned Parenthood one time. A reasonable person might question who actually wrote the report and how much help she received.
If you are not familiar with Title X, it is the money that the federal government gives out in the form of grants to entities to pay for things under the broad range of “Family Planning” in low income and uninsured individuals. It covers programs like contraception, std testing and (some) treatment, limited cancer screenings, and referrals and links to other care sources like infertility treatments, HIV care, etc. Pro-abortion groups are upset about a few changes to the program. One is a rule change that would let organizations that provide training in natural family planning or std testing qualify for part of the grant funds as indirect recipients as long as another recipient or individual recipient provided other “comprehensive” care. A second is a proposed rule change, which is still open for public comment until the end of July, would prohibit entities that are using Title X funding from directly referring women to abortion providers. Under the proposed rule, a doctor whose patient indicates she would like to have an abortion may provide her with a list of providers that includes abortion providers. The doctor is prohibited from providing only abortion providers and is prohibited from referring women who do not indicate that they want an abortion to abortion providers. It would also require Title X providers to document that they follow state and local laws pertaining to reporting child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape, incest, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking. Planned Parenthood and abortion advocates have argued that this is a “gag rule” that will prevent women from accessing abortion. (Side note, if you would like to submit a comment in support of the rule, you can do so here. Remember that your comment will constitute part of the public record so others will be able to read it. You can comment anonymously).
Columbus is facing huge problems. The opioid epidemic is ravaging our communities and citizens. Our infant mortality rates are among the worst in the nation. Incidents of violent crime continue to be reported, and homicide rates are only barely lower than last years’ record-breaking murder rate. Should a member of the Columbus City Council and the Columbus City Auditor be using taxpayer resources to make the case that a rule which will require Planned Parenthood to document that they follow Ohio and local laws about reporting child molestation, child abuse, rape, and human trafficking and prohibit its doctors from referring women who do not specifically request an abortion to abortion providers will hurt people in Richland, Athens, Trumbull, Wayne, and a few other counties? We think not.
 On June 9, 2017, Columbus experienced its 58th homicide of the year. On June 11, 2018, Columbus experienced its 53rd homicide of the year. Source: Columbus Division of Police Media releases.
Thank you to everyone who has signed our petition or reached out to Mt. Carmel to ask that the hospital remove the address and phone number of a local abortion clinic from its physician referral.
We are disappointed to share that the hospital has indicated it will not be removing the physician listings and abortion clinic address from the listing.* A letter from the hospital shares that the hospital's policy is that physicians affiliated with the hospital have an opportunity to have their practice listed on the hospital's website, and because they do not discriminate against physicians, Mt. Carmel will continue to provide that listing as primary practice location of Dr. Schaeffer. The President of the hospital also indicated that to clear up any misconceptions, they will be adding a disclaimer to the directory website. That disclaimer reads:
"The Right Physician for Your Needs
We know the right care begins with the right physician. For many people, that means working closely with a trusted primary care physician, someone who can offer basic care, focusing on wellness and prevention. For others, it means consulting a specialist for a specific problem or concern. Mount Carmel has more than 1,500 physicians located throughout Central Ohio. We want to help you make the choice that's right for you. So we not only make it easy to find a provider with the right experience, location and hours -- we help you begin a partnership with an expert health care guide.
To find the right physician for you, use the online search below or call 614-234-LIFE.
All Mount Carmel facilities are operated in a manner consistent with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services (the "Directives"). Since most of the physicians in this directory are independent members of our medical staffs with their own private offices, Mount Carmel does not have control over the services provided in these locations."
We do not discount the wonderful work that Mt. Carmel is doing to serve the community. Caring for the sick, especially those who do not have the means to pay for their own care is a work of mercy and love. However, we think it is fair to hold a Catholic hospital to at least the same standard that we hold Planned Parenthood. Some supporters of Planned Parenthood have argued that only 3% of the services provided at Planned Parenthood are direct abortions. The pro-life community has rightly responded that the figures are misleading but that it does not matter what percentage of the procedures are abortion-related, the 3% figure represents more than 300,000 abortions each year - 1/3 of the total number of unborn children killed by abortion every year. There is no amount of good that can justify the intentional taking of innocent human life.
If we apply that same math to Mount Carmel's OBGYN department, of the 94 physicians listed in the Mt. Carmel OBGYN directory, "only" two of those listings will send women to an abortion clinic. That's just a little over 2%. If you look at only the 36 physicians who are listed as having an affiliation with Mount Carmel East, it jumps to almost 6%. Either way you do the math, those listings are responsible for about half the abortions performed in Central Ohio each year and about ten percent of the abortions performed in Ohio each year. **
We've heard from so many in Central Ohio who are thanking us, sending tips our way, indicating that no one has seen either Blank or Schaeffer at Mount Carmel East in years. Women who have been hurt by Drs. Blank and Schaeffer are coming forward and seeking healing and help. It has led me to believe that while I do not know what will ultimately happen, when we place our faith in God, He gives us more than we could ever expect.
224 years ago, the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne (an order of Catholic nuns) were put to death because they refused to abandon their vows as ordered during the French Revolution. We cringe at the thought that the last year of the French Revolution was marked by more than 16,000 deaths by torture and dismemberment, although that is a fraction of the number of babies who die by abortion each year in Ohio.
Their story has captured the attention of many not only for their individual courage in living their vocation, but the larger role that they played in bringing about the end of the Reign of Terror. Most agree that the story of these 16 obedient Carmelites, dressed in their habits, renewing their vows, and singing Veni Creator Spiritus, turned the hearts of the people. Within days, the Reign of Terror was ended. The story has inspired many artistic renditions, including this scene from the Diálogo das Carmelitas (note: oblique references to death by guillotine).
To be clear, we are not calling on Mt. Carmel to become martyrs to the culture of death; we are just asking that they remove the address and phone number to an abortion clinic from their physician directory. It does not seem to be mere coincidence that this weekend many of our friends and readers will celebrate Pentecost, and in Churches throughout central Ohio - especially Catholic - pro-life voices will sing Veni Creator Spiritus.
We will continue to work on this issue, making the case to Mt. Carmel that there is no room for an abortion clinic listing in life-affirming healthcare. If you've not yet signed the petition, it is not too late. Join us, in prayer and action, that Mt. Carmel live up to its name as a Catholic hospital with the same virtuous courage shown by the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne. Then pray that we each start to live with that virtuous courage and that we as a nation turn away from the senseless violence and bloodshed that starts not just in the womb, but in our own hearts.
Several weeks ago, pro-abortion activists announced that they would be suing the state of Ohio over a law that protects children given a prenatal diagnosis of likely having a condition like Down Syndrome from being aborted.
A few days ago, our stomach's curled reading an gruesome and callous opinion piece in the Washington Post, "I would have aborted a child with Down Syndrome: women need that right."
Tonight the legal aspirations of the former met the cold-hearted world-view of the latter when Federal Judge Timothy Black issued an injunction to prevent the Down Syndrome Protection Act from going into effect. You can read the 22-page decision here. The story made national and international news, at least part of it did.
What has not yet made any of the dozen or so mainstream news articles that we've read is that Justice Black was a former President of the Board, board member at large, and attorney for Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati before being appointed to the federal bench. You can read his biography submitted when he was appointed to the bench here. You can read an article by the Associated Press from when he represented Planned Parenthood in Court three decades ago here, and you can read an article from 2014 when the conflict of interest came up during another lawsuit that would determine if the Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati would stay open.
Judicial venue shopping is not new, and there is little doubt that the reason so many abortion lawsuits are filed in Cincinnati is because abortion advocates know that they have a friendly venue when going up against a judge who served as the Chairman of the Board and legal counsel for Planned Parenthood. Let's be honest; to argue that aborting a child once it has been indicated likely to have a disability is a special right that women need to preserve is a tough argument to make in the court of public opinion. In that case, it helps to have a friendly judge.
This situation, frankly, is the cause of a gamut of emotions: anger, grief, and compassion are at the top of the list. Underneath all of them, however, is one that we do not talk about quite as often: resolution. More than anything, when I read about this, I am resolved that we can do a better job of standing up for the unborn, defending those who are weak or different or disabled.
Will you be resolved with us?
Breaking News: Ohio Supreme Court Upholds ProLife Laws against two legal challenges.
Last fall, the Ohio Supreme Court heard two cases related to Ohio abortion clinics and clinic regulations.
In one case, Capital Care Network of Toledo v State of Ohio Department of Health, an abortion clinic operated by the management of Founder’s Women’s Health abortion clinic in Columbus, challenged the Ohio Department of Health’s order to close the clinic because it was not in compliance with a state law requiring abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital, which the state subsequently defined as a clinic within 30 miles away, or obtain a medical variance for the law.
Oral arguments were heard by the court in September of 2017, just days after the clinic was fined by the Ohio Department of Health for transferring a patient who was believed to have a perforated bowel following an abortion to a local hospital in the private vehicle of a non-medical staff person. The law was first challenged in the Lucas County (Toledo) court of common pleas, which reversed an Ohio Department of Health’s decision to revoke the license of Capital Care Network of Toledo. The 6th District Court of Appeals in Ohio upheld the Common Pleas Court’s decision. The Ohio Supreme Court released an opinion today saying that the state was within its right to close the clinic. You can read the Ohio Supreme Court's Decision, here.
The second case, Preterm-Cleveland Inc. v Kasich, was heard in oral arguments at the Ohio Supreme Court just two weeks later. In that case, Preterm challenged the Ohio law that required abortion clinics to obtain a transfer agreement with a local hospital, prohibit state-funded hospitals from entering into transfer agreements, and requiring a test for a fetal heartbeat as part of the informed consent before an abortion. The provisions were added to the state budget in 2014, and Preterm made various arguments, including that the law violated Ohio’s one subject rule and violated previous court decisions that said state lawmakers could not make it too difficult to have an abortion. The state made various arguments in defense of the law and argued that Preterm did not have standing to sue because there was no injury to Preterm. A copy of the decision by the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas is available here and a copy of the decision by the 8th District Court of Appeals is here. You can read the Ohio Supreme Court's Decision, which declared that the clinic did not have grounds to sue, here.
Both majority decisions were authored by Justice O'Donnell and joined by Justices Kennedy, Fischer, DeWine, and French. Dissenting were Justice Bill O'Neill, who recently resigned from the court, and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor.
Neither majority opinion delved into the constitutionality per se of the questions involved, although Chief Justice O'Connor's dissent did note some of the constitutional issues brought out in the oral arguments by abortion industry attorneys. Some commentators think that this could open the door to separate federal litigation.
In the Capital Care Toledo case, the court syllabus declares, "The order of the Ohio Department of Health revoking the health care facility license of Capital Care Network of Toledo is supported by reliable, probative, and substantial evidence and is in accordance with law because Capital Care operated without a written transfer agreement for a period of five months and its subsequent agreement with the University of Michigan does not satisfy the Ohio Administrative Code requirement to establish and maintain written transfer agreements for patients in emergency situations," and the opinion concludes, "Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstate the order of the Ohio Department of Health revoking and refusing to renew the license of Capital Care Network of Toledo" (our emphasis).
We anticipate that the Ohio Department of Health will immediately take steps to order the closure of Capital Care Network of Toledo’s surgical practice. The clinic may continue to provide medical abortions, and could pursue either federal litigation or a variance under Ohio’s law that allows a clinic that cannot get a transfer agreement to identify backup physicians who can take over patient care and directly admit to a local hospital. The majority opinion in CCN noted that the clinic did not pursue this option.
It is worth noting that the Toledo abortion clinic is owned and operated by the same people who operate the Founder's clinic in Columbus. The company owes nearly a million dollars in back taxes and fees to local, state, and federal taxing entities and was recently fined $40,000 for failing to follow their emergency operations plan after an abortion procedure was stopped because the doctor thought he had perforated a patient's bowel.
We also anticipate Pate that CCN May start referring its surgical patients to Founder’s, in which case the need to fill the upcoming 40 Days for Life campaign (gcrtl.org/40-days-for-life) and recruit new Sidewalk counselors and prayer partners (Gcrtl.org/swc-survey) is more critical than ever!
update: (2/6/18 @3:15 pm): ProMedicaHealth, a Toledo hospital system that has so far remained neutral by refusing a transfer agreement issued a statement earlier today indicating that they are reconsidering their neutrality and will make a decision soon. Pro-abortion activists are expected to stage a protest Monday afternoon calling on the hospital to enter into a transfer agreement. Toledo RTL President Ed Sitter has asked pro-life voices to reach out to ask pro-medics to remain neutral.