The fate of a new pregnancy center remains uncertain after the mayor of South Bend, Indiana blocked a measure Friday allowing it to open.
The Federalist reports South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg vetoed the city council’s vote to allow the Women’s Care Center to open next door to a proposed abortion facility. Buttigieg cited abortion activists’ concerns about protests in a letter explaining his decision.
The council could override Buttigieg’s veto, but it is not clear if the members will. They approved the rezoning measure last week in a narrow 5-4 vote.
The plans of both the pro-life pregnancy center and the abortion facility are in limbo right now. Whole Woman’s Health, a Texas-based abortion chain, also has had its plans to open in South Bend delayed. In January, the state denied a license to the abortion facility, saying it provided “inaccurate statements and information” on its application; the abortion chain is appealing.
Buttigieg’s decision on Friday immediately faced criticism from pro-life advocates and religious leaders, as well as members of the city council.
Oliver Davis, vice president of the South Bend Common Council and a political liberal, told the South Bend Tribune he is concerned about the precedent set by the mayor’s veto.
“I’m concerned…now that a group can come before a zoning board and say, ‘We don’t like that group…so we don’t want them next to us,’” he said.
Buttigieg said he made the decision based on land use guidelines, not politics.
“In my judgment, the neighborhood would not benefit from having the zoning law changed in order to place next door to each other two organizations with deep and opposite commitments on the most divisive social issue of our time,” he wrote.
However, he also admitted that abortion activists’ lobbying influenced him.
“Whole Women’s Health Alliance has written to express the view that they would be harmed by such a re-zoning,” Buttigieg wrote. “They cite research indicating that clinics in close proximity to crisis pregnancy center(sic) experience significantly higher rates of violence, threats, and harassment (21.7%) than those not near such a center (6.8%).”
Margot Cleveland responded at The Federalist:
Nor has there ever ”been an instance of violence” in the resource center’s 34-year history, even though “they’ve been open right next to 22 abortion clinics,” as Jenny Hunsberger, the vice president of the Women’s Care Center, told WNDU. To assuage the mayor’s purported concerns, the Women’s Care Center provided a written commitment that it would prohibit protesting on its property.
As several council members noted, the Women’s Care Center cannot prevent protests from the city’s right of way, but that goes to show opponents of the rezoning are disingenuous about their concerns because protestors can target the abortion clinic with or without the nearby presence of the pregnancy center.
Instead, what Whole Women’s Health Alliance really fears is competition, because whenever the Women’s Care Center opens near an abortion clinic, the abortion provider’s bottom line suffers.
Two prominent Catholic leaders in the community also criticized Buttigieg’s decision.
John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, stressed that the pregnancy center “doesn’t engage in political advocacy, but provides compassionate, non-judgmental loving care to women most in need.”
He said the mayor’s decision will only divide “our community and diminishes opportunities for vulnerable women to have a real choice.”
Catholic Bishop Kevin Rhoades, of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, also issued a statement in response to the veto.
“How unfortunate that the Women’s Care Center has been denied in its own hometown the opportunity to expand their compassionate services to a location where it could best reach the women who could benefit most,” Rhoades said.
While abortion facilities like Whole Woman’s Health earn money when women abort their unborn babies, pregnancy centers like Women’s Care Center lose money when they help pregnant and parenting moms.
Non-profit pregnancy centers function primarily with volunteers and donations; very few receive government money. They provide information about pregnancy options and life-affirming support for women and their babies. Their services often include counseling and emotional support, material supplies like cribs, diapers and maternity clothes, and help with job skills, housing assistance, social services and more. Many continue to support women and children for the first couple years after birth. What’s more, they provide their services for free.
Meanwhile, abortion facilities make money killing unborn babies and deceiving their mothers. Whole Woman’s Health also has a poor reputation for meeting basic health and safety standards.
It has racked up dozens of health and safety violations at its Texas facilities. Health inspection reports show numerous problems with sterilizing and disinfecting instruments that were used from woman to woman. State inspectors also found rusty spots on suction machines that had the “likelihood to cause infection” and other issues that put patients’ safety in jeopardy.
South Bend has not had an abortion facility since 2015 when abortionist Ulrich Klopfer was forced to close. He faced 1,833 allegations of violating the law, including failures to report the suspected rapes of several teen girls to authorities.