Indiana Pro-Life Advocates Concerned About Hospitals Performing Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 5, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Indiana Pro-Life Advocates Concerned About Hospitals Performing Abortions

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
August 5, 2004

Valparaiso, IN ( — A pro-life leader in Indiana has called into question a lease arrangement between two abortion-performing hospital systems.

Julie Wheeland, vice president of Porter County Right to Life, asked why board members of Porter Memorial Health System had not formally sought to renew a lease agreement with Methodist Hospitals. In 1999, Methodist Hospitals loaned the Porter system $6.5 million in a 5-year lease agreement to build a new hospital in Portage, in exchange for a one-third share in the new facility.

The two hospital systems are the only places that perform abortions in northwest Indiana, though Porter only performs abortions at its Valparaiso building. If Porter were to sell the Portage building, a possibility mentioned by city commissioners, Methodist has the first chance to purchase the building, creating another abortion-providing facility in the area.

Attorney Bob Welsh, representing Porter hospitals, told Wheeland that while termed a lease, the agreement was actually a loan with additional conditions.

Welsh said that the agreement expired in March, and Porter was supposed to have notified Methodist six months earlier with intent to renew, but it has not.

Wheeland’s concern appeared to be that Porter may be seriously considering the option of selling its interest in the Portage hospital, giving Methodist a chance to re-buy its interest. If Methodist purchases the Portage building, it is expected to perform abortions there.

This week Wheeland announced that a watch group was forming to monitor all aspects of Porter’s business.

"Porter Watch will not address issues related to the hospital’s abortion policy as there are other persons and organizations monitoring that concern," said Wheeland. "All Porter County citizens — whether pro-life or pro-choice — are welcome to join Porter Watch, focusing on our common interest in events at Porter hospital in ensuring the best health care for Porter County citizens."

Porter Memorial Health System has been criticized for its tolerance of second-trimester abortions being performed by staff, including abortions performed because the unborn child is disabled.

Wheeler, then president of Porter County Right to Life, expressed her concern following the board’s decision in September 2002 to not only continue to perform abortions, but to expand the reasons second-trimester abortions would be allowed.

"Porter Memorial Hospital is becoming the second-trimester abortion dumping ground of Northwest Indiana," said Wheeland. "As other hospitals race to get out of the abortion business, our hospital’s reputation as the place to go for late abortions will grow beyond belief. This is a very bad business decision for our community hospital. It’s a sad day for the citizens of Porter County."