Indiana AG appeals decision allowing Whole Woman’s Health Alliance to perform abortions in South Bend

By Dave Andrusko

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

When last the name of Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker appeared in NRL News Today, the Indiana Attorney General had just appealed Judge Barker’s preliminary injunction against portions of SEA 404 in a case brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. SEA 404 is a new parental rights law designed to give parents more rights if their minor daughter seeks an abortion.

But since then Judge Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, heard arguments from the Texas-based abortion chain, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. WWHA was seeking an injunction so as to be able to perform abortions in South Bend, Indiana, even though it did not have a state license to perform abortions. The clinic says it would perform chemical abortions through ten weeks of pregnancy.

On Friday, she issued the injunction.

In her ruling, Judge Barker said state health officials’ “application of the licensing law violates the due process clause and the equal protection clause,” according to WNDU.

On Sunday Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill filed documents, seeking an immediate stay of a Friday injunction.

“Judge Barker’s decision to side with the abortion operators will put Hoosier women at risk and lead to the deaths of hundreds of unborn children,” said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “We expect WWHA will now open without an abortion license, meaning Hoosiers have no way to know if they are complying with health and safety rules or not. Judge Barker’s decision is another example of a court trampling states’ rights when it comes to any measure that protects life. “

As we reported, the state of Indiana’s initial denial of an abortion license for WWHA was based upon the Department’s review which found that “WWHA failed to meet the requirement that the Applicant is of reputable and responsible character and the supporting documentation provided inaccurate statements and information.”

In his news release announcing his appeal, AG Hill wrote

“This federal judge seems to believe that every large city in the state is entitled to its own abortion clinic,” Attorney General Hill said. “She further seems to think that state licensing requirements must give way whenever a clinic proposes to open in a city without one. The U.S. Supreme Court has never even remotely implied that such a rule exists.”

Allowing the operation of unlicensed abortion clinics could cause harm to patients, Attorney General Hill added.

“This is a facility that would dispense medication that ends pregnancy and causes women to expel fetal remains,” he said.

“This course of treatment may cause substantial loss of blood and may prompt years of regret, depression and other emotional harm to women.”

Indiana has good reasons for requiring abortion clinics to be licensed, Attorney General Hill said, such as the state’s interest in protecting the health of the mother and preserving the life of the fetus.

“Criminal and civil penalties can only punish violations of the law after they occur,” he said. “Licensing makes violations less likely to happen in the first place. This is precisely why states have licensed the legal and medical professions since the mid-nineteenth century. Requiring abortion clinics to be licensed facilities is entirely reasonable and constitutional. For that matter, it’s the very least we should do to protect the health of women and unborn children.”

In response to Judge Barker’s decision, St. Joseph County Right to Life executive director Jackie Appleman, said in part, “WWHA is known for being a hostile community member and for ignoring regulations put in place for woman’s health and safety. I am frustrated by the judge’s decision and concerned for the women in our community.”