For Immediate Release:
August 22, 2016
Doctors Join with Good-Government and Women’s Groups
To Urge Removal of Mike Gonidakis from State Medical Board
COLUMBUS – Groups representing doctors, consumers and women asked the Ohio State Medical Board to force the resignation of Board President Michael Gonidakis, saying his other job as President of Ohio Right to Life poses a conflict of interest so profound that it cannot be remedied.
In a letter dated August 19, the groups provided documentation showing that Mr. Gonidakis and Ohio Right to Life publicly condemned three abortion providers who are named in a complaint that Dayton Right to Life filed with the Medical Board. The complaint is pending.
“Common Cause Ohio isn’t pro-choice or pro-life; we’re anti-conflicts of interest and pro-impartiality,’’ said Samuel Gresham Jr., Chairman of Common Cause Ohio. “Mike Gonidakis has two jobs: He is President of Ohio Right to Life, an organization dedicated to ending abortion; and he’s President of the Ohio State Medical Board, a panel that received a complaint about three abortion providers. Mr. Gonidakis pronounced the doctors guilty without hearing from them or the patient. His two jobs clearly pose a conflict that he cannot rectify.”
Also endorsing the letter of removal is Dr. Arthur Lavin, co-chair of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, a group of 600 Cleveland-area doctors working to improve quality of care.
“The medical board should be free from politics,’’ Dr. Lavin said. “Its job is to certify physicians as qualified. When it strays from that mission, it hurts the state, it hurts the doctors and it hurts the patients.’’
Governor John Kasich appointed Mr. Gonidakis – a lawyer with no medical training – to one of two “consumer” seats on the medical board. Under Ohio law, the board’s duties include “regulating the practices of medicine and surgery … including the power of the board to take disciplinary actions under section 4731.22 of the Revised Code.’’
On August 3, Ohio Right to Life announced that its Dayton affiliate filed a complaint with the state medical board against three licensed Ohio physicians. The complaint accuses the doctors of having “violated Ohio law and forced an abortion on this patient … who was incapable of withdrawing her consent due to a drug overdose.’’ Distributed on Ohio Right to Life letterhead, the news release includes a quote from Devin Scribner, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, that states, in part, “Ohio’s abortion lobby forfeits whatever tinge of credibility it has if it refuses to condemn what happened at Women’s Med Center.“
That same day, Mr. Gonidakis forwarded a copy of the news release to ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis with this personal note:
Sandy…. Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for “women’s health”. So sad.
ProgressOhio also filed a formal complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission that provides additional evidence of the conflicts. The evidence includes: An April 13, 2013, article in the Toledo Blade in which Mr. Gonidakis speaks out against providing medical students with instruction on how to perform an abortion; and a link to a radio program showing Right to Life’s continued collaboration with Operation Rescue, a group best known for clinic violence.
Operation Rescue Senior Vice President Cheryl Sullenger spent two years in federal prison for trying to firebomb an abortion clinic, and the group routinely terrorizes abortion providers by featuring them on “Wanted Posters” that include their home and clinic addresses. Several doctors listed on the posters, including David Gunn, George Patterson, John Britton and George Tiller, were killed by anti-abortion zealots.
“Anyone who is so dedicated to overturning a safe, constitutionally protected medical procedure does not belong on the Ohio State Medical Board,’’ Theis said. “Mr. Gonidakis’ views place him at odds with the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the U.S. Supreme Court.’’
In addition to ProgressOhio, Common Cause Ohio and Doctors for Health Care Solutions, the following organizations endorsed the call for Mr. Gonidakis’ removal: Ohio National Organization for Women, Education and Legal Fund; Innovation Ohio; Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, National Council of Jewish Women, Columbus Section; National Council of Jewish Women, Cleveland section; Democratic Voices of Ohio; Ohio Voice; American Association of University Women.