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Feds won't pursue disability complaint against abortion clinic

But local abortions are down 56 percent since 2006, pro-life leader says

Monday, October 8, 2012 - 6:27 pm

Despite a 56 percent decrease in local abortions in the past five years, the leader of Allen County Right to Life noted one significant defeat at the organization's annual banquet Monday.

Calling it “grievous oversight,” Executive Director Cathie Humbarger announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has declined to pursue a complaint she filed in July against the Fort Wayne Women's Health clinic at 2210 that claimed the city's only abortion facility was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide handicapped parking spaces or a wheelchair ramp.

Humbarger, whose office is nearby, said she had witnessed women leaving the clinic in apparent discomfort following an abortion but had to walk to their cars because of the lack of a legally required ramp.

But in a letter dated Sept. 29, the Justice Department said it would take no action even though “our decision does not indicate whether or not we believe there has been a violation of the ADA . . . the Department is not able to pursue every complaint we receive.”

“All they needed to do was send a letter,” responded Humbarger, who said she may investigate other possible responses. “Even though fewer women in Allen County are getting abortions, they still deserve a facility that meets federal law.”

Citing Indiana Department of Health statistics, Humbarger said 290 abortions were performed in Allen County last year, compared to 658 in 2006. Last year's number represents a 52 percent decrease from 2010, when 316 surgical abortions were performed along with 297 medical or drug-induced abortions at a Coliseum Boulevard facility that has since closed.

Humbarger noted that the drop in abortions may be due in part to the 2009 opening of a pro-life Women's Care Center near the Inwood Drive clinic, the 2011 relocation of her office to Inwood, the 2010 passage of Allen County's “patient safety ordinance” and the “40 days of prayer and fasting” program begun in 2008. A Women's Care Center also opened on Coliseum after the now-defunct clinic began operations there.