Indiana Supreme Court ponders new abortion law; South Bend clinic says it will no longer perform abortions

By Dave Andrusko

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance [WWHA], the only abortion clinic in Northern Indiana, announced it will no longer provide abortions. “WWHA said staff will still answer phone calls from patients seeking abortion care and refer them to nearby providers,” Jordan Smith reported for the South Bend Tribune.

“We are devastated to mark the end of our physical presence in South Bend,” Amy Ahlstrom Miller, WWHA president, said in a Monday press release. Miller blamed the clinic’s closure on politically driven” abortion restrictions.  

The state’s new abortion law– Senate Enrolled Act 1– was signed by Indiana’s pro-life Gov. Eric Holcomb on August 5, 2022, and was set to take effect on Sept. 15. Writing for the Associated Press, Tom Davies explained that “The Indiana ban, which eliminated the licenses for all abortion clinics in the state, includes exceptions allowing abortions at hospitals in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.”

But the law was put on hold in late September by Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon. She said “There is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit.  The judge’s injunction meant that abortion providers could resume services at least until the Indiana Supreme Court issues its ruling.

WWHA filed a motion on Monday “to dismiss its lawsuit,” Smith reported. “The legal challenge is ongoing, however, and is led by a regional Planned Parenthood organization.”

The state Supreme Court heard the ACLU’s challenge to Senate Enrolled Act 1 on January 19.

Indiana Right to Life president and CEO Mike Fichter said at the time, “There is no right to abortion in the Indiana Constitution.”

“The United States Supreme Court made it clear abortion policy is to be decided by the people of each state, which is exactly what happened when the Indiana legislature acted following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. We hope the court will act quickly in upholding the new law so Indiana can move forward in ending the majority of abortions in our state. There is a great urgency to the court acting swiftly as over 150 unborn children continue to die from abortion in Indiana every week the new law remains blocked.”