Fort Wayne, Indiana Pro-Life Group Moves Next to Abortion Ctr

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 24, 2011   |   5:12PM   |   Fort Wayne, IN

The board of directors of Allen County Right to Life, a local affiliate of Indiana Right to Life based in this northeastern Indiana city, will be moving the offices of the pro-life group next door to the only abortion center in town.

The board has announced that it has formally signed a lease for office space at 2118 Inwood Drive, located just a few feet away from Fort Wayne’s only surgical abortion center.

“The lease has been signed and we are in the process of finalizing plans for renovation and for moving into our new office,” said Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger.

Humbarger cites an increase in pro-life advocacy activity as well as a growing number of pro-life volunteers as the reason for the move.

“Many of our pro-life activities, including the 40 Days for Life campaign, occur in the Inwood Drive vicinity, and this is the logical location for our operations,” says Humbarger, who also notes that the expanding role of Allen County Right to Life and the Three Rivers Educational Trust Fund in Indiana requires more space.

The public will be invited to tour the facility when renovations are complete.

The announcement of the move comes days after Alliance Defense Fund attorneys secured an extremely favorable settlement for Allen County that retains virtually all of the county’s Patient Safety Ordinance, a pro-life law introduced last year to extend regulations protecting women to itinerant physicians, including abortion practitioners.

Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit last May on behalf of an abortion practitioner wanting to strike down the entire patient safety law, which was designed to protect patient health and safety throughout the county.

“A patient’s health is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “This settlement means the county will not have to put the health and safety of patients at risk just because one man wanted to perform abortions without the same sensible safety precautions that apply to all out-of-town surgeons. The ordinance makes sure that patients receive appropriate treatment in the event that a medical emergency arises after itinerant physicians have gone back home and are no longer available to care for their patients.”

The rule introduced last year requires that itinerant physicians–those who only have part-time or temporary offices in the county–must provide patients and area hospitals with 24-hour contact information and the name of a second physician designated for patient follow-up.

Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, an abortion practitioner, objected to the ordinance because he was unable to find a local physician willing to be his back-up contact when he was out of town. The information is necessary in the event of medical emergencies that arise from the treatment itinerant doctors provide, as they are not always available after they leave the county and return home.

In August, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana issued an order granting a preliminary injunction against minor provisions of the ordinance involving health department inspections, but it approved most of the provisions while the lawsuit moved forward. With the settlement in Fort Wayne Women’s Health v. Board of Commissioners, the key provisions of the ordinance that provide safeguards for patient protection will be finalized into a court order.