For the first time in decades, it appears Fort Wayne will soon be without a legal abortion provider – at least for a while.
Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, the Illinois doctor who has performed abortions in Fort Wayne for years but earlier this month lost his “backup” physician as required by local law, will no longer perform surgeries in his clinic at 2210 Inwood Drive, according to Cathie Humbarger, executive director of Allen County Right to Life.
Several calls placed by Right to Life supporters indicate Klopfer's clinic in South Bend will accept Fort Wayne patients beginning next week, although pre-abortion counseling could continue to be offered locally, Humbarger said.
Klopfer confirmed he is taking a “hiatus” from performing abortions in Fort Wayne because of a lack of a required backup, but said he hopes to resume should he find a replacement for Dr. Geoffrey Cly, whose resignation is effective Jan. 1.
Humbarger said it would be premature to celebrate given Klopfer's hoped-for return, but said the clinic's demise would be “tremendous news for desperate mothers and babies vulnerable to abortion. Our goal has been to make Allen County abortion-free.”
The Allen County Patient Safety Ordinance requires doctors practicing but not residing in the county to have a relationship with a local doctor who can legally practice in Allen County. Additionally, state law requires abortion doctors to have local admitting privileges or have entered into an agreement with a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital in the county or contiguous county in case of post-operative complications.
Cly, who is pro-life, said he agreed to serve as Klopfer's backup in 2010 in order to protect the health of women receiving abortions from Klopfer, since he practices in Fort Wayne only one day each week. But in a Dec. 12 letter to Klopfer, Cly said he was terminating the arrangement because of Klopfer's failure to file timely reports about abortions on girls under 14 as required by state law.
“Furthermore, you told an online news publication, RH Reality Check, that you now advise girls under 14 and their parents or guardians that they can go to Illinois or Ohio to avoid (Indiana's) under-14 reporting requirement for child sexual abuse,” Cly wrote. “Your failure to report 13-year-olds' abortions properly and your subsequent admission to advising parents to avoid state laws is alarming. According to Indiana law, sex with a girl under 14 – regardless of the perpetrator's age – is child abuse. Your advice to cross state lines for abortions may help child abuse to continue and a perpetrator or abuser to walk free.”
“Abortions are legal, but I still want to keep women safe,” said Cly, who declined to comment on Klopfer's future in Allen County.
In October, Humbarger said 487 consumer complaint forms were being sent to the Indiana attorney general and the Allen County prosecutor, each stating what Humbarger said are errors or omissions on the Terminated Pregnancy Reports that must be filed with the State Department of Health after each procedure is performed. Similar complaints have been filed by right-to-life supporters regarding Klopfer's work at clinics in South Bend and Gary, and the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency has asked him to appear next month to explain his actions.
Klopfer said it is unfortunate that right-to-life supporters are more concerned about his activities than about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and said their attempts to curtail his Fort Wayne operation will only hurt women.
“They'll have to drive another 100 or 200 miles. That will add to their cost and hardship,” he said.