Court Allows Abortion Clinic to Break State Law, Open Without Proper License

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 22, 2019   |   9:37PM   |   South Bend, Indiana

A new Indiana abortion facility may continue to abort unborn babies even though state health officials have serious concerns with the facility’s licensing application, a federal court ruled this week.

The state and the Whole Woman’s Health abortion group have been battling over the license for almost two years. The new South Bend, Indiana abortion facility is closely linked with a Texas-based abortion chain that has amassed dozens of health and safety violations at its other abortion clinics.

Indiana health officials denied the group a license in 2017, saying it was not of “reputable and responsible character” and did not disclose information about additional abortion clinics. However, the abortion group sued, and, in May, a federal judge ruled that it may open without a license.

This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the abortion facility may stay open as a provisionally licensed facility, ABC 57 News reports.

Here’s more from the report:

The justices ordered the district court to modify the current injunction to allow the clinic to operate as a provisionally licensed facility. It allows the state to regulate the facility and allows the clinic to provide abortions while the case proceeds.

The ruling says the licensing scheme was being used unconstitutionally, to prevent the clinic from opening rather than using it as a means to vet and monitor the medical facility.

Since June 27, the facility has been aborting unborn babies up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, averaging about 10 a week, The Chicago Tribune reports.

However, state health officials said they are “deeply” troubled by the potential dangers of an unlicensed abortion facility in their state. A spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill told the Tribune that they have not given up their efforts to protect women and unborn babies.

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Hill previously accused the courts of putting abortions ahead of women’s safety.

“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 earlier this summer. “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.”

Two years ago, 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.

That is the matter of the current appeal.

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. 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.