South Bend abortion clinic set to open; Opponents and clinic officials react to judge's ruling

NOW: South Bend abortion clinic set to open; Opponents and clinic officials react to judge’s ruling

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- An abortion clinic got the okay Friday to open its doors in South Bend.

A federal judge has ruled in favor of an injunction filed by Whole Woman's Health Alliance.

Meaning, it can open its doors to provide medically-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant, even though the state hasn't given it a license to do so.

This legal battle has been going on for two years now. The Indiana State Department of Health initially denied the clinic a license to operate in 2018.

Friday, Judge Sarah Evans Baker called the state’s rejection a “substantial obstacle” for women.  

The injunction allows the Whole Women’s Health clinic to become the first clinic in the Michiana area to provide medication-induced abortions.

While people behind the clinic call the decision a victory, others are outraged.

Jackie Appleman is the director of the pro-life, Right to Life group in South Bend. She’s concerned because this decision allows the clinic to operate without a license from the state.

“It’s going to be very dangerous for the health and safety of women,”Appleman said. “Even our hair and nail salons and restaurants need to be licensed and so for a medical organization that wants to do procedures and hand out prescriptions to not be licensed? It’s nonsense.”

The licensing requirement has been at the center of this legal battle. The clinic argued in court that the state’s requirements were vague.

Ultimately, the judge did not agree with that argument –but did find that the department’s application of the licensing law placed a quote “substantial obstacle in the path of Norther Indiana women” suggesting that the previous licensing rejection by the state violated due process and equal protections for women.

The Whole Women’s health clinic’s president, Amy Hagstrom Miller, reacted to the decision in a statement to ABC57 today saying:

“Families in Northern Indiana will finally have a place to turn to for safe, compassionate abortion care. The ruling is clear – the Court sees the undue burden that women in Northern Indiana face when seeking to end a pregnancy. We came to South Bend at the request of members of the community and we are happy to say we can soon open our doors. It has been a long road, but today is a very good day.”

This will be the seventh abortion clinic to open in the state of Indiana but the first medication-only abortion clinic in our area. Previously women had to travel to places like Indianapolis and Lafayette.

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