Abortion clinic's licensure debated in appeals court hearing

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Thursday to determine whether Whole Woman's Health Alliance should be allowed to open a medication only abortion clinic in South Bend without a license pending the outcome of a lawsuit.

Each side was given 20 minutes to present its case and answer questions from the three justices.

Whole Woman's Health Alliance's first application to open an abortion clinic in South Bend was denied because they did not provide all of the requested information about its affiliates and because they could not show they were of reputable character.

A second application included requests for documentation that was considered burdensome by the clinic and the state has not acted on the application.

The clinic sued the state and a district court judge issued an injunction allowing the clinic to open without a license. The state appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The state argued the district court erred by ruling the clinic could open without a license. The state argued licensure serves the public interest by protecting patients, allowing the state to inspect facilities and ensure they are complying with state law.

They argued their requests for information about the clinic's affiliates were not overly broad and would give the state information about who is operating the clinic. In addition, the state argued questions about the definition of affiliate has since been decided by state law.

Whole Woman's Health argued the state would still have the ability to inspect and oversee the clinic if it operated without a license.

The clinic's attorney argued they are unable to get a license because the state is 'moving the goalposts' by making overly broad document requests and they have already provided thousands of pages of information to the state.

The attorney for the clinic said it would accept a narrow injunction from the court of appeals that would allow it to operate without a license while the case is moving through the court system, instead of the broad injunction of the district court.

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