COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Groups representing doctors, consumers and women have asked the state medical board to remove the president of Ohio Right to Life as the board's leader because they say he can't be impartial in abortion-related cases.
In a letter dated Friday, organizations including Common Cause Ohio, Doctors for Health Care Solutions, Democratic Voices of Ohio, the National Organization for Women and the liberal policy group ProgressOhio alleged Mike Gonidakis has a conflict of interest on a pending complaint involving three Ohio abortion providers.
"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," said Sam Gresham, chairman of Common Cause Ohio. "Mr. Gonidakis pronounced the doctors guilty without hearing from them or the patient. His two jobs clearly pose a conflict that he cannot rectify."
Arthur Lavin, co-chairman of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, a group of 600 Cleveland-area doctors working to improve the quality of care, said, "The medical board should be free from politics."
Gonidakis said Monday that he planned to recuse himself from voting on the complaint against Dayton Right to Life cited in the letter. In a statement, he said his decision to sit out the case came before the groups wrote their letter, so as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
"Board members are required to discharge their duties in a fair and impartial manner," he said.
Republican Gov. John Kasich appointed Gonidakis to one of two consumer seats on the medical board. He is serving a term that began in October 2012 and ends July 2017. The board's president is elected from among sitting members of the board.