Ohio Protects Late-Term Abortionist

UPDATE 7/2/2013 at 3:08 p.m.: The second footnote was modified to indicate that Governor Kasich has since signed the budget bill with pro-life provisions intact. — OCR Editors

UPDATE 6/28/13 at 4:38 p.m.: A footnote was added to the last sentence about abortion-related provisions in the budget bill being sent to the Governor at the time of this update.  — OCR Editors

The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government. (Thomas Jefferson)

Notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted in May of the murder of three infants born alive during abortion attempts and of one woman during a botched abortion. The aftermath of his trial has exposed that these atrocities are not unique.

We are now learning that other abortionists across the country are also using brutal abortion methods. But Ohio has had this dubious claim to fame for years.

Ohio abortionist Martin Haskell was an early ardent proponent of partial birth abortion–which involves piercing the skulls of partially born, viable children–and is a known late-term abortionist (using other methods), even after partial birth abortion was rendered illegal.  (Ohio now has a post-viability ban on abortions after 20 weeks gestation; it is not known whether Haskell is complying.)

Martin Haskell operates the Women’s Med Center abortion facilities in Sharonville and Kettering, Ohio, plus in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pro-life blogger Christina Dunigan recently exposed Haskell as the inspiration for Gosnell.

Dunigan writes that Gosnell got the idea for “snipping” the necks of born alive infants to “ensure fetal demise” from Haskell’s presentation to the National Abortion Federation in 1992. During this presentation Haskell taught abortionists how to perform partial birth abortion, essentially the same method Gosnell used to kill infants.

Haskell’s Women’s Med Center abortion facility is classified as an ambulatory surgical facility, as are other Ohio abortion centers, including Planned Parenthood abortion-providing affiliates.[1]  The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) normally requires that any physician operating an ambulatory surgical facility have a transfer agreement at a local hospital, should an emergency occur with a patient at his/her office. But Haskell does not have a transfer agreement for either his Sharonville or Kettering operations—no hospital is keen on providing this.

Nevertheless, Haskell remains in business in Sharonville under an ODH variance (i.e., exception) to cover emergencies.  He does so through the admitting privileges of two doctors at Bethesda North Hospital who have agreed to provide services to his injured abortion patients, plus one at Christ Hospital.  A result of litigation (Haskell has a history of successful lawsuit bullying), the ODH granted a variance for Haskell to operate his Women’s Med Center in Kettering, covered by the admitting privileges of three other doctors at a local hospital.

It is suspected that an ODH variance of this type is rare. It is unclear whether any other Ohio ambulatory surgical facility has one.

Moreover, Haskell operates in a manner inconsistent with his variance.

March of last year, paramedics with ambulance and police were called to Haskell’s Sharonville abortion center. Paramedics carried a young woman out on a stretcher, giving her life support after she suffered a seizure.  In this incident, Haskell did not use the doctors specified in his variance to provide emergency care, but made an emergency call as any non-medical personnel would to the nearest hospital, which was Bethesda. Operation Rescue obtained the 911 call.

Operation Rescue filed a complaint with the State Medical Board of Ohio against Haskell alleging violations of standards of patient care after this abortion patient was hospitalized. The complaint asked that the board conduct a thorough review and take whatever steps necessary to protect the public.

Yet Haskell continues business as usual under a variance he doesn’t even follow.

The prime responsibility for making it possible for this late-term abortionist to operate in Ohio lies with the Ohio Department of Health. If variances had not been granted, the Women’s Med Center would not be open.

The issue now is how to end the variances. As much as we question the ODH, the Attorney General’s office, and the governor’s office, the answer seems elusive.

While babies are dying and patient safety is unsure, many appear fearful of making too much of a ruckus because of Haskell’s aggressive legal retaliation history, and–this is key–potential cost to the state.

However, some creative House and Senate amendments in the Ohio budget under review could keep Haskell’s and other Ohio abortionists’ deadly business from undeserved special rights and protection.

The first, a House amendment from Representative John Adams, codifies some ODH standards related to ambulatory surgical facilities, including the requirement that an ambulatory surgical facility have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital for safe and immediate transfer of patients from the facility to the hospital when necessary.

If the Adams amendment is adopted, an ambulatory surgical facility operating under a variance to the written transfer agreement may continue to do so until the facility’s license is reviewed for renewal, at which time the variance will also be reviewed. This applies to Martin Haskell’s Women’s Med Center abortion centers in Sharonville and Kettering.

On the Senate side, Senator Shannon Jones has introduced an amendment specifically addressing transfer agreements that abortion-providing ambulatory surgical facilities must have.

The Jones amendment prohibits tax-funded public hospitals from making transfer agreements with ambulatory surgical facilities that provide abortions. Abortion-providing ambulatory surgical facilities can request a transfer agreement from private hospitals, but private hospitals may deny the request. This applies, for example, to Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s abortion headquarters in Cincinnati, and all abortion facilities except Haskell’s, which are protected by a variance.

As of this writing, the Ohio budget is under review in a conference committee of Ohio House and Senate members. It remains to be seen whether legislators and Governor Kasich can stand against pro-abortion pressure and retain both amendments to better ensure the health and safety of women and at least curb inhumane abortion deaths of our tiniest unborn citizens.[2]

Featured-ColumnistPaula Westwood is Executive Director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, board member for Ohio ProLife Action, and weekly pro-life news contributor for the Son Rise Morning Show, broadcast nationally via Sacred Heart Radio/EWTN (513/728-7870, pwestwood@cincinnatirighttolife.org).

 All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.

[For other articles on life, keep reading on OCR: “One Heartbeat Away: What Happened to the Ohio Heartbeat Bill”] [“Ohio Medicaid Expansion Tied to Anti-Life Policies”.]

 1. Ambulatory surgical facilities are not limited to abortion; there are others for legitimate medical procedures.

2. Governor Kasich signed the Ohio budget bill June 30th including an Ambulatory Surgical Facility amendment, which is a strategic combination of both Rep. Adams’ and Senator Jones’ amendments. 

Barring a legal challenge from abortionists, this amendment will address every abortion center in the state, including both Planned Parenthood (1) and the Women’s Med Center (2) in Cincinnati.
 
The text of the amendment reads:
 
(B) No public hospital shall do either of the following:
 
(1) Enter into a written transfer agreement with an ambulatory surgical facility in which nontherapeutic abortions are performed or induced;
 
(2) Authorize a physician who has been granted staff membership or professional privileges at the public hospital to use that membership or those privileges as a substitution for, or alternative to, a written transfer agreement for purposes of a variance application described in section 3702.304 of the Revised Code that is submitted to the director of health by an ambulatory surgical facility in which nontherapeutic abortions are performed or induced. 

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