June 2, 2019

Federal Judge Clears Way For South Bend Abortion Clinic To Open

Article origination IPBS-RJC
The Birch Bayh federal courthouse in downtown Indianapolis. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The Birch Bayh federal courthouse in downtown Indianapolis.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Updated June 3 at 11:45 a.m.

A proposed South Bend clinic that performs abortions has the go-ahead to finally open after a federal judge ordered the state to clear a path.

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance has been trying to open a clinic in the northern Indiana city since 2017. But the state refused to issue a license, citing what it said was incomplete and inaccurate information in the Alliance’s application.

After a lengthy administrative appeal failed, the Alliance tried to apply a second time late last year. And after the state again threw up roadblocks, the health care organization sued.

Federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker sides with Whole Woman’s Health. She says the state’s licensing law is a significant and largely unnecessary burden to women’s legal access to abortion. From her decision, Barker writes “the state stands to lose little if an injunction is issued, but … women in northern Indiana stand to lose a great deal if it is not.”

"Simply put, there is unmet demand for abortions in and around South Bend which is, at this point, state-created, without any appreciable benefit to maternal health or fetal life," Barker writes. 

The legal battle will continue as the state has appealed the judge’s ruling.

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