NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Texas abortion clinic meets roadblocks in expanding to Indiana

A News-Sentinel editorial in October agreed with the Indiana Right to Life’s opposition to an application by a Texas-based nonprofit to establish an abortion clinic in South Bend. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Jimtown, asked the Indiana State Health Department to reject the application.

Last week the state health commissioner denied Whole Woman’s Health Alliance an Indiana license because the Austin family planning clinic failed to provide requested information to support its application.

“This is great news for women, unborn children and the South Bend community,” Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter said after the health department’s decision was announced. “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.”‘

WWHA disputed the claims and said it would appeal the decision by a Jan. 23 deadline.

According to The Associated Press, Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box, in a Jan. 3 letter, said her agency had asked WWHA to list all of the abortion and health facilities it operates but wrote that it “failed to disclose, concealed, or omitted information.” The AP says Whole Women’s Health operates clinics in eight cities across the country, but the South Bend clinic would be its first in Indiana.

Box explained that the license was denied because the nonprofit “failed to meet the requirement that the applicant is of reputable and responsible character, and the supporting documentation provided inaccurate statements or information.”

Rep. Walorski said in an October letter that St. Joseph County has made “tremendous progress” in reducing the number of abortions in recent years. “Indiana and its leaders have worked hard to make meaningful strides to combat the rate of abortions within the state,” she wrote. “These crucial gains in protecting the sanctity of life would be undermined should the application receive the state’s approval.”

We continue to support the legal due diligence of the Legislature and state health department and the determination of state pro-life groups in trying to prevent the killing of unborn babies in Indiana.

According to Indiana health department data, 7,277 abortions were performed in Indiana in 2016, representing an 8.5 percent drop from 2015. That coincides with the closure of a South Bend clinic that stopped providing abortions in 2015 after the state revoked Dr. Ulrich Klopfer’s license amid allegations he violated state laws and regulations. South Bend and Fort Wayne have both been without an abortion clinic ever since.

Pro-life groups point to tighter state laws approved by the Republican-dominated Legislature for the decline in abortions in Indiana. And we think that’s a good thing.