PUBLISHED ARTICLES AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Columbus Dispatch | 12/2/12
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis should not have been appointed to the State Medical Board. The board needs to focus on licensure of physicians and enforcement of the Medical Practices Act.
The medical board should be comprised of physicians and those whose expertise will advance the licensure and regulation of the medical profession in Ohio. The appointment of a lobbyist for a single-issue organization that is seeking influence on the State Medical Board is unprofessional, unethical and dangerous.
Ohio Right to Life's single-issue politics already was represented on the medical board by Laurie Elsass, a public member who also serves on the Ohio Right to Life Board of Trustees.
The last thing we need to do is inject divisive, single-issue politics into the regulation of medical practice in Ohio.
Stacey E. Shehin
Plain Dealer | 11/21/12
Gov. John Kasich seeks to add remarkable bias to the State Medical Board by appointing Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis. This injects divisive, single-issue politics into the regulation of medical practice in Ohio. The appointment of Gonidakis sends a message that the function of the Medical Board is not to license and regulate the medical profession, but to foster one particular ideological perspective within the board's activities, opinions and rulings.
The Medical Board should be composed of physicians and those whose expertise will advance the licensure and regulation of the medical profession in Ohio. Physicians are already troubled by the number of laws that are being enacted that trump their ability to practice medicine as they were trained. They have testified that such restrictive legislation may lead to their relocation from the state.
The appointment of a lobbyist for a single-issue organization that is seeking influence on the State Medical Board is unprofessional, unethical and dangerous. Furthermore, Ohio Right to Life's single-issue politics is already represented on the Medical Board (by Laurie Elsass, a public member who also serves on the Ohio Right to Life Board of Trustees) and should not be multiplied.
Akron Beacon Journal | 11/20/12
Although the abortion issue is precisely why Gov. John Kasich appointed Michael Gonidakis to Ohio’s State Medical Board, allow me to explain why he doesn’t belong there without even touching the abortion issue itself. As you may be aware, Gonidakis is the president of Ohio Right to Life. But that’s not why he doesn’t qualify. He doesn’t qualify to be on the State Medical Board because he’s not a doctor and has never worked in the medical field.
He’s a politician and a lawyer. His credentials include a BA degree in political science and graduating from law school.
There is no explanation that suitably explains why this man qualifies to be on Ohio’s medical board.
I urge readers, no matter what their views on abortion, to write to Gov. Kasich, as I have, to tell him to withdraw Gonidakis’ appointment.
The validity of the State Medical Board depends on it.
By Paul E. Kostyu
Cincinnati Enquirer | 11/15/12
COLUMBUS — The governor’s appointment of the Ohio Right to Life president to the state medical board is adding fuel to an already volatile debate about abortion in the state.
Abortion rights advocates are calling the Oct. 29 appointment of Michael Gonidakis another attack on women by Gov. John R. Kasich and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
But some abortion opponents say they want the medical board to protect unborn babies. And the new appointee told The Enquirer he plans to protect all consumers.
Gonidakis is one of three consumer representatives on the 12-member board. The other nine members are doctors. Appointments are subject to approval by the Legislature, which normally is routine. Gonidakis attended his first board meeting Wednesday.
The appointment comes at the same time Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio are fighting two pieces of legislation: one would defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio (House Bill 298) and the other would prevent abortions when a heartbeat is detected in a fetus, which could be as early as six weeks and before a woman knows she’s pregnant (House Bill 125).
Gonidakis joins current consumer member Laurie O. Elsass, a former board member of Right to Life. Critics say having two with the same social philosophy is overdoing it.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL, said the board could be used to deny or revoke licenses to health care providers who support abortion rights.
She said that would be the equivalent of a “witch hunt for ideological gain.”
The medical board, established in 1896, regulates 55,000 licensed health care providers, including doctors, physician assistants, massage therapists, cosmetic therapists, anesthesiology assistants and acupuncturists.
Rick Pender, vice president for development and external affairs for the Southwest Ohio Region of Planned Parenthood, said it seems the governor is loading the board for political reasons.
“(Gonidakis) doesn’t bring anything new except for that single-minded, extremist perspective,” he said.
“What does he add to a board that deals with the certification of physicians?”
For his part, Gonidakis said he intends to represent all consumers.
An attorney by training, Gonidakis sought the appointment, he said, because he saw it as a good fit.
He said he has 13 years experience working with pharmaceutical companies and in health care law. He served as a senior deputy attorney general under former Attorney General Jim Petro.
“The more people who want to protect life that are put on the medical board the better,” said Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action and the leading proponent of HB 125, which she helped write.
Pender said he preferred someone on the board with a background in health care administration “who doesn’t come with a particular political bias.”
Gonidakis’ appointment shouldn’t surprise anyone, said Rob Nichols, the governor’s spokesman.
“The governor believes strongly in the sanctity of human life,” he said. “So what is surprising here is that someone could be surprised that he’s a governor that practices what he preaches.”
“No organization has done more to interfere with women’s health care than Ohio Right to Life,” Copeland said.
“For their president and a former board member to be sitting on this medical board is a grave concern for women across the state.
“We’re concerned they will abuse the power of the board for ideological gain.
“We’re seeing the Legislature do it right now.”