Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill quickly appealed a judge’s ruling Friday allowing a dangerous abortion clinic to open without a license in South Bend.
The state and the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance have been battling over the abortion group’s license for almost two years. The alliance is closely linked with a Texas-based abortion chain that has amassed dozens of health and safety violations at its other abortion clinics.
In March, the abortion group asked a federal court for “emergency relief” from state licensing requirements; and on Friday, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted their request, WNDU News reports. Her ruling means the abortion group can start aborting unborn babies without a license or state oversight.
On Sunday, Hill filed an appeal, saying the ruling puts women’s health and safety at risk.
“This federal judge seems to believe that every large city in the state is entitled to its own abortion clinic,” Hill said in a statement. “She further seems to think that state licensing requirements must give way whenever a clinic proposes to open in a city without one. The U.S. Supreme Court has never even remotely implied that such a rule exists.”
He said states require licenses for medical facilities because these requirements protect patients.
“Criminal and civil penalties can only punish violations of the law after they occur,” Hill said. “Licensing makes violations less likely to happen in the first place. … Requiring abortion clinics to be licensed facilities is entirely reasonable and constitutional.”
In 2018, the Indiana State Department of Health denied the abortion facility a license after it said Whole Woman’s Health provided inaccurate information on its license application. The abortion chain appealed, arguing that the state abortion clinic regulations are unnecessarily burdensome and unconstitutional. An administrative panel upheld the state’s decision in November. That case is pending.
Because arguments in the lawsuit are not scheduled until August 2020, the abortion group also asked a court to grant it a temporary, “emergency” order to open without a license, the South Bend Tribune reports.
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That is the matter of the current appeal.
A spokesperson for the abortion group said they hope to begin offering abortions “in the upcoming weeks,” the South Bend Tribune reports. However, that will depend on the outcome of Hill’s appeal.
Indiana Right to Life said the judge’s order would put countless women’s and babies’ lives at risk in Indiana.
“Judge Barker’s decision to side with the abortion operators will put Hoosier women at risk and lead to the deaths of hundreds of unborn children,” said Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life.
Without a license, Fichter said Hoosiers have no way of knowing if the abortion facility is complying with basic health and safety rules.
In late 2017, pro-life advocates learned that the abortion chain planned to open a new abortion facility in South Bend. Whole Woman’s Health – which is very closely linked to Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (abortion activist Amy Hagstrom Miller runs both) – has a shoddy reputation, including dozens of health and safety violations at its Texas facilities.
Health inspection reports show numerous problems with sterilizing and disinfecting instruments that were used on multiple women. The abortion chain also failed to provide a safe and sanitary environment at many of its Texas facilities, according to state inspection reports. State inspectors also found rusty spots on suction machines that had the “likelihood to cause infection” and other issues that put women’s health in jeopardy.
These violations may have influenced Indiana state officials’ decision. According to the state Department of Health, “Based upon the Department’s review, the Commissioner finds WWHA failed to meet the requirement that the Applicant is of reputable and responsible character and the supporting documentation provided inaccurate statements and information.”
Tens of thousands of pro-life advocates and prominent female lawmakers have sent the strong message that they do not want another abortion business in their state. U.S. Congresswoman Jacki Walorski, of Indiana, sent a letter to the state department to express her concerns.
“Indiana and its leaders have worked hard to make meaningful strides to combat the rate of abortions within the state,” Walorski wrote. “These crucial gains in protecting the sanctity of life would be undermined should the application receive the state’s approval.”
In 2017, the abortion group applied for a license to open a new facility at 3511 Lincoln Way W., an old chiropractic clinic. It plans to provide first-trimester abortion drugs, according to the Tribune.
South Bend, the home of Notre Dame University, has not had an abortion facility since 2015 when abortionist Ulrich Klopfer was forced to close. He was charged with 1,833 abortion violations, including failures to report rapes of young teenage girls to authorities.