2 Ohio abortion providers quietly close doors in past month

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — One of Ohio’s nine remaining full-service abortion clinics and a second facility providing medication-only abortions have quietly closed in the past month.

Anti-abortion groups publicized the closures of the full-service Akron Women’s Medical Group and the Cleveland Women’s Medical Group, which provided medication-only abortions, this week. The Ohio Department of Health said their licenses remained active.

The news came the same week that David Burkons, the owner and operator of a third abortion facility, also in northeast Ohio, had his medical license suspended for six months.

Burkons wasn’t regularly practicing at the Northeast Ohio Women’s Center, in Cuyahoga Falls, which remains open.

Ohio Right to Life and its affiliates praised the closures as a victory for the anti-abortion movement.

“In one week, we have already seen two abortion facilities shut down and one abortionist’s license suspended. What more can we accomplish in 2017?” the group wrote in an email to supporters. “Together with you, we will continue on the path to zero, ensuring human life is protected by the law and an increasingly pro-life culture!”

The group has successfully pushed for a series of increasingly restrictive abortion laws in recent years, most supported by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of the abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said it wasn’t entirely clear what prompted the most recent closures, which she believes took place sometime since June. Both facilities’ phone numbers went unanswered Friday, and the Cleveland facility’s website described it as “closed until further notice.”

But Copeland said a political climate unfriendly to the legal right to abortion is at least partly responsible.

“The posture of Gov. Kasich’s Department of Health has been to persecute abortion providers and to abuse their regulatory authority to close safe, legal clinics because of politics and ideology and not because of health concerns,” she said.

She said her organization is concerned about whether other physicians will be able to step in and provide services that women need.

Burkons, of Shaker Heights, received his suspension for activity unrelated to abortion. He was sanctioned for improperly prescribing medications to patients from 2011 to 2014 after investigators found he had left blank, signed prescription forms for his office staff to fill out.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.