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State Health Department Denies South Bend Abortion Clinic License

By Jennifer Weingart, IPB News | Published on in Family Issues, Government, Health, Statewide News
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Indiana State Department of Health has denied an application for a license to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.  As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jennifer Weingart reports, the applicant is an out-of-state nonprofit group.

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, a non-profit entity, applied in August to open an abortion clinic offering medication abortions, also known as the abortion pill. It was announced to the public in October.

A letter from the Department of Health states the reason for the denial was a failure to disclose information about its clinics. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance operates two other clinics, one in Texas and one in Virginia.

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance President Amy Hagstrom Miller says they were confused by the sudden denial.

“We’ve had no politics or red tape or any kind of difficulty in either of those places getting licensed and dealing with the regulators and having our clinics inspected, etc. So, we’re not quite sure what’s going on in Indiana. or why the process in Indiana would be so different.”

The letter does not specify what information was left out. The Department of Health declined to comment, citing the ongoing appeals process.

Hagstrom Miller says Whole Woman’s Health Alliance will file an appeal.

Indiana Right to Life organized a public comment campaign that President Mike Fichter says garnered 36,000 emails from people against the new clinic. He says the letters were written mainly by people from the South Bend area.

Whole Woman’s Health, the for-profit branch of the same company as Whole Woman’s Health Alliance operates eight clinics that provide abortion clinics in Texas, Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland and Illinois. The organizations were founded by the same person but are operated separately.

Whole Woman’s Health is known for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a Supreme Court case from 2015 that found a Texas law requiring clinics that provide surgical abortions to have facilities comparable to ambulatory surgical centers, and for physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away was an unconstitutional undue burden on access to abortion.

Indiana law requires a physician performing abortions to have admitting privileges with a hospital in the same, or a neighboring county or an agreement with a physician who does. The proposed Whole Woman’s Health Alliance clinic in South Bend does have an agreement with an area physician, but privacy laws require that the state not identify the physician.