Businesses in Indiana can't operate without a license – but thanks to a federal judge, that's not going to be a problem for an abortion provider in South Bend.
On Friday, May 31, Federal District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a preliminary injunction that allows Whole Woman's Health Alliance (WWHA) to open its South Bend abortion business without a license. "We hold that the state stands to lose little if an injunction is issued," the judge wrote, "but women in northern Indiana stand to lose a great deal if it is not."
Evans Barker's ruling didn't sit well with area pro-lifers.
"First of all, we're disappointed that we're having an abortion clinic opening in our community," says Jackie Appleman of St. Joseph County (Indiana) Right to Life. "It's harmful for women and deadly for their babies. But even more shocking was that the judge is completely undermining the state's ability and right to regulate and license organizations doing business in Indiana."
According to the Indiana Department of Health, Whole Woman's Health Alliance failed to meet the requirement that the "applicant is of reputable and responsible character and the supporting documentation provided inaccurate statements and information."
After the Department declined its license request, WWHA appealed and won a ruling in 2018.
"Our hair and nail salons and restaurants [in Indiana] need to be licensed," says Appleman. "So now we're going to have a clinic handing out medications to go completely unregulated. It's just nonsense."
Whole Woman's Health Alliance, which is headquartered in Texas, has been trying to open in South Bend since 2017 and wants to do chemical abortions, hence the "medications."
"A lot of the local coverage is saying, Okay, this clinic has overcome barriers to finally be able to open – [but] nobody is talking about the fact that a federal judge has completely undermined a state's right and authority to license a business," Appleman points out.
"This judge is allowing an organization that has a history of unsafe practices that are harmful to women to open in our community without a license. It's very dangerous and our local news is not telling that story."
A final decision on the abortion clinic will come next year. Appleman says Whole Woman's Health Alliance is still seeking to remove all abortion restrictions within the state.