Federal court ruling allows South Bend abortion clinic to stay open with provisional license

NOW: Federal court ruling allows South Bend abortion clinic to stay open with provisional license

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the Whole Woman's Health medication-only abortion clinic can operate as a provisionally licensed clinic.

The ruling stops an attempt from Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill to reverse the opening of the clinic, which has been providing medically-induced abortions since June.

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.

Representatives with the clinic filed a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order in March 2019 asking for the court to grant the clinic relief from "vague, arbitrary Indiana licensing and hospital privilege requirements so that WWHA can open its doors and begin providing care to the community."

“Today’s decision is a win for the people of Northern Indiana needing abortion care. The Indiana Department of Health has created an undue burden for those seeking to end a pregnancy, attempting to further stigmatize abortion and obstruct the ability to receive that care in the community. For the past two years, we have worked tirelessly to open our clinic and provide patients in Michiana with safe, compassionate abortion care. We are elated by today’s ruling," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance.

The pro-life group, St. Joseph County Right to Life, called the ruling dangerous. 

“This is a tragic ruling and I’m concerned for the women in our community,” Jackie Appleman with the St. Joseph County Right To Life group said. “Not only is this an attack on state rights, it’s an attack on children and families. The appeals court, by granting a license without state authority for an abortion chain that has a history of health and safety violation has overstepped its bounds to pander to the abortion lobby.”

This is not the end of the legal battle, however. Thursday’s ruling only means the clinic can remain open while their lawsuit against the state proceeds.

With a trial slated for August of 2020, the clinic’s self-called victory may be short lived. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance has a pending lawsuit against the state protecting abortion access against unconstitutional regulations and requirements.

The trial verdict in 2020 will decide if the clinic will permanently stay.

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