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Questions surround abortion clinic

Doors remain open despite rift between doctor, women's group.

Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 10:52 am

According to its website, the Fort Wayne Women's Health Organization has closed.

Even so, Fort Wayne's oldest and most controversial abortion clinic was open for business today, as it is every Thursday – leaving people on both sides of the abortion debate wondering what's going on. And neither the organization nor Dr. George Klopfer, the Illinois osteopath who has performed abortions in Fort Wayne under the Women's Health Organization banner for two decades, is willing to add much clarity.

Women's Health Organization board member Ann Rose would offer few specifics, but said the closing of its Fort Wayne clinic was “a business decision. In this economy, a lot of companies aren't doing well.” The organization's website informs patients how to request their records and refers visitors to the Indiana Women's Center, which began offering nonsurgical, drug-induced abortions at 916 W. Coliseum Blvd. last year.

But an employee at the apparently former Women's Health Organization clinic at 2210 Inwood Drive offered a different story this morning as she stood in front of the still-open facility.

“We severed our ties with (the Women's Health Organization),” she said, declining further comment. Rose also would not comment on the cause of the split, and Klopfer was unavailable for comment.

The Fort Wayne Women's Health Organization moved its clinic from 827 Webster St. to Inwood Drive in 2006 after Klopfer paid $319,200 for the former insurance office which, as is usual on Thursdays, drew a handful of pro-life picketers today.

Cathie Humbarger, Allen County Right to Life executive director, was at first jubilant at the apparent demise of the facility she had opposed for so long. “This is a tremendous day for defenders of life,” she said early Wednesday, speculating that the Allen County Commissioners' recent ordinance requiring so-called “itinerant” doctors to provide health officials with emergency contact information may have influenced the decision. “We thank the Lord for his faithfulness.”

That joy quickly turned to disappointment, however, when she learned the clinic was still functioning, if under a different name.

“Maybe we celebrated too soon,” Humbarger said later. Then, noting the uncertain status of Klopfer's facility and the ongoing operations of the clinic on Coliseum Boulevard, she added: “Our work is never done.”

To that end, Humbarger said she will investigate whether Klopfer is licensed to operate the clinic without an affiliation with the Women's Health Organization.