The Indiana State Department of Health has denied an application to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO of the Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, says they plan to appeal the decision.
"If there one thing you can know about Whole Woman’s Health Alliance is that we are going to be determined," said Hagstrom Miller. "We are committed. We’d like to open our doors to serve the community as soon as we can."
According to the ISDH, "In response to the Department's request to list all of the abortion and health care facilities currently operated by WWHA, its parent, affiliate, and subsidiary organizations, WWHA failed to disclose, concealed, or omitted information related to additional clinics."
Hagstrom Miller countered, saying: "I think the state health department maybe has some misinformation and is assuming an affiliation between clinics where there is none."
Pro-life advocates believes the ISDH has the right idea.
"We're very pleased to see they've sided with the health and safety of women by denying the organization's application for license," said Antonio Manchi, the program director at Right to Life of St. Joseph County.
In the state's requests for follow-up information, Hagstrom Miller reports the ISDH inquired about the "corporate structure" of the non-profit organization along with tax information. Still, the application denial isn't blindsiding, says the CEO, given Indiana's political leanings.
"In the context of political history in Indiana and regulations in the past that shuttered a lot of clinics in the state, this (application denial) doesn't come as a big shock, but it is even more why an organization like Whole Woman's Health Alliance needs to show up for people in the community and be able to withstand this kind of of regulatory interference and have a strong commitment to providing the care, no matter what," said Hagstrom Miller.
If the administrative appeal is granted, Hagstrom Miller says the clinic on Lincolnway West will open as soon as possible to provide non-surgical abortions (the abortion pill) along with gynecological services and family planning guidance.
WWHA operates abortion clinics in Austic, Texas and Charlottesville, Va.
"This is great news for women, unborn children and the South Bend community," said Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter. "We applaud the state for its due diligence in this matter and thank the thousands of Hoosiers who made their voices heard. We will remain vigilant in this matter should an appeal to the license denial be attempted."
“Every human life is precious and deserves our protection," said U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.). "The Indiana State Department of Health made the right decision to defend the sanctity of life and protect women’s health by rejecting this application.”
In October, Walorski sent a letter to the state health commissioner urging the ISDH to deny the application.
In October 2017, we reported that the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance applied for a license to operate out of a building in the 3500 block of Lincolnway West.
A different South Bend clinic had performed abortions until the ISDH revoked Dr. Ulrich Klopfer's license in 2015.
2016 marked the first year in more than three decades in which there were no abortions performed in St. Joseph County.
Indiana lawmakers in recent years have passed laws making it more difficult for clinics to get state approval to operate.
From Whole Woman’s Health Alliance:
Despite five months of accurately responding to every request for information from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), last week Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA) was denied its request for a license to open a clinic providing quality abortion care to women in the South Bend community. The ISDH denial did not have substantive merit and it seems the Department is confused about the facts.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, a non-profit organization, announced in October 2017 her latest endeavor to open a new women’s health clinic that will provide quality abortion care in South Bend, Indiana.
According to ISDH, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance has until January 23, 2018 to file an administrative appeal with the Department.
“We are determined to move forward and we are committed to offering high quality care in South Bend,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. “For nearly 5 months, we have complied with every single request from the ISDH and have worked directly with them to ensure that we would soon be able to provide quality care to the women and families of South Bend. The ISDH’s denial of our application is very unfortunate, and we are disappointed by what seems to be a misunderstanding on their part. We will absolutely appeal this decision and we look forward to clarifying the misinformation and moving forward without additional delays. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance remains committed to providing the care that this community deserves. We should not forget that good women have abortions – and the women of South Bend deserve access to compassionate, quality abortion care.”
“I have lived and worked in underserved communities my entire life,” said Ed Liptrap, candidate for State Senate, District 11. “I wholeheartedly believe that when we limit people’s medical options for non-scientific reasons, there are long-term catastrophic consequences, including undermining trust in our government and medical professionals. With those experiences in mind, I find the Indiana State Department of Health’s decision to deny a license to Whole Woman’s Health [Alliance] disheartening. Making abortion care available only to those who can afford to take time off work to travel to another city will disproportionately affect our already underserved communities.”
“As a professor of Women's and Gender Studies at a public university, I see every day what is at stake in my students' abilities to get the reproductive care they need to lead empowered lives,” said Professor April Lidinsky, director and associate professor of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, IU of South Bend. South Bend is in dire need of women-centered health care that acknowledges the importance of women deciding whether and when they will become mothers. Every other direction women's lives take hinges on reproductive justice. We need Whole Woman's Health [Alliance] in South Bend for the good of ALL of us.”
From Indiana Right to Life:
Indiana Right to Life has learned through a public information records request that the Indiana State Department of Health has denied a state license to Whole Women's Health Alliance (WWHA) to operate a new abortion facility in South Bend.
The Department's denial letter states: "Based upon the Department's review, the Commissioner finds WWHA failed to meet the requirement that the Applicant is of reputable and responsible character and the supporting documentation provided inaccurate statements and information."
"This is great news for women, unborn children and the South Bend community," states Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter. "We applaud the state for its due diligence in this matter and thank the thousands of Hoosiers who made their voices heard. We will remain vigilant in this matter should an appeal to the license denial be attempted."
Fichter notes that Indiana Right to Life generated over 36,000 e-mails from concerned citizens since the application for a proposed South Bend abortion facility first surfaced in October.
In the denial letter provided to WWHA by the state, it is noted that a person may not provide abortions unless holding a license issued by the state.