Abortion Clinic Struggles to Resume Services Despite Ending Indiana Ban

SOUTH BEND — Whole Woman’s Health Clinic, the only abortion provider in Michiana, said it would work to resume offering medical abortions after Indiana’s law banning nearly all abortions was temporarily halted by a judge on Thursday.

The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and joined by Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and other abortion and healthcare service providers. .

WWHA’s Midwest Advocacy director Sharon Lau told The Tribune it was unclear when the clinic could resume abortion services. Unlike Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana, including one in Merrillville, which plan to begin serving patients immediately, Whole Woman’s Health is understaffed.

“Because we had to reduce our staff and doctors, we cannot resume immediately,” Lau said. “But we will work to resume as soon as possible.”

After:Anti-abortion rally draws counter-protests to South Bend after Roe v. Wade overthrow

The Virginia-based abortion provider said last week it would keep its South Bend clinic open, although it is unable to offer medical abortions. Instead of this service, staff members would work to connect pregnant women with resources to find legal abortion providers in other states.

Judge’s ruling means Indiana’s abortion law temporarily stalled

Special Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon wrote in her ruling Thursday that although abortion was not legal at the time the Indiana Constitution was drafted, language in the document suggests there is “a reasonable likelihood” that family planning decisions – including whether to carry a pregnancy to term – are protected.

Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita said his office plans to appeal the decision. It is unclear how long the injunction will last.

WWHA CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said in a statement that the local clinic is working to open in the “near future” and that “legal back and forth is causing disruption to patient care and uncertainty for our staff. That’s exactly what the politicians who pass bans like this want.”

The lawsuit challenges Senate Bill 1, which allows abortions only for the purpose of preventing a serious risk to the health or death of the mother, when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest until ‘at 10 weeks after fertilization, or when the fetus has been determined to have a fatal abnormality up to 20 weeks. The bill took effect Sept. 15 after Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed it into law in August.

The case was filed in Bloomington in Monroe County. A Republican Owen County judge, Hanlon, received the case after three Monroe County judges, all Democrats, passed it on.

Antonio Marchi, executive director of Michiana Right to Life, lamented the decision and said in a statement that it could mean two dozen more abortions are happening every day in Indiana. He hopes the judge’s preliminary injunction will be “temporary and brief”.

“In her decision, Judge Hanlon recognized the state’s legitimate interest in protecting the lives of unborn human beings,” Marchi wrote, “and we hope that will prevail in the case.”

The websites of the three Planned Parenthood clinics that offer abortions in Indiana — one in Merrillville, one in Lafayette and one in Indianapolis — were all updated Thursday to reflect the law change and say the organization “will continue to provide abortion care while the litigation continues.”

Whole Woman’s Health opened its South Bend clinic in June 2019 after years of challenges from the Indiana state government. Clinic leaders estimate they have provided more than 1,100 medical abortions in Michiana in just over three years.

“Whole Woman’s Health Alliance is not leaving Indiana,” Hagstrom Miller said at a press conference last week. “We will work to change the shame and stigma that drive politicians to enact bans like this in the first place, and we will always center abortion as the good, moral and essential health care that it is.”

Whole Woman’s Health clinics in four cities — Baltimore, Minneapolis, Alexandria, Va., and Charlottesville, Va., — will remain open, and the alliance’s Abortion Wayfinder program will help people living in restricted states plan flights, hotel stays and local support. for trips abroad.

Email South Bend Tribune City Reporter Jordan Smith at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @jordantsmith09

Comments are closed.