South Bend City Council fails to override mayoral veto that prevents pro-life pregnancy center from moving near a proposed abortion facility

By Dave Andrusko

Hundreds of pro-lifers don pink at April 10 city council meeting to support Women’s Care Center.
Photo Courtesy: Women’s Care Center Facebook

By a single vote, the South Bend City Council Monday failed to override Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s veto of a rezoning bill that would allow the Women’s Care Center, a pro-life pregnancy center, to move across the street from a proposed abortion facility.

The nine members voted the same way (5-4) they had April 23 when they approved the rezoning proposal. However six votes were needed to override Buttigieg’s veto.

There are various options available, beginning with selling the property at 3527 Lincoln Way W. According to Jeff Parrott of the South Bend Tribune the Women’s Care Center could ask a judge to overturn Buttigieg’s decision

Under a 2003 Indiana Court of Appeals ruling, property owners who are denied a rezoning request can file suit, asking a judge to review the denial “to determine constitutionality, procedural soundness or whether it was an arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable action.”

Parrott reported that in a four-page memo sent by Richard Nussbaum, the Center’s lawyer, to the council last week,

Nussbaum seemed to lay some groundwork for a legal challenge, saying Buttigieg had effectively based his veto on the need to prevent “secondary effects,” such as incidents of violence, that could result from the Women’s Care Center and proposed Whole Woman’s Health Alliance non-surgical abortion clinic locating next to each other. Case law only allows that rationale when dealing with “controlled uses,” such as adult theaters and bars, Nussbaum said.

Abortion was not the issue, council members on both sides stressed, according to Parrot. But council member John Voorde “became emotional when it came time for his comments before the vote.”

He talked about how his daughter was born with a disability, “for whom abortion was suggested.”

“Thank God we didn’t choose that option,” Voorde said, his voice changing as if he was about to cry. “She’s the most wonderful gal any parent could want.”

He then regained his composure and his voice returned to normal.

“I don’t want this to cloud this issue,” he said. “Let’s just look at the five criteria. I got that over with.”

In an op-ed written for the South Bend Tribune prior to Monday’s vote, Ann Manion, the President of Women’s Care Center, began by dismissing the mayor’s allegations that “our center will potentially incite violence. But over 34 years, there has never been any violence at any of our centers. Ever.”

She wrote about Women’s Care Center’s 34 year history in which

it has provided support for women before a decision for life, and after through healthy baby education, free vitamins, parenting and life skills classes, self-sufficiency support, cribs, diapers, free children’s books to promote literacy, and strong father’s groups. Sixty-six percent of our clients are referred by a friend, including those who have had abortions.

No one can walk in Women’s Care Center without seeing our logo, a mom kissing her baby! We remain steadfast in our commitment to the moms and babies of South Bend.

Manion concluded that Mayor Buttigieg’s veto

a setback for Women’s Care Center. We served 4,109 women last year from St. Joseph County alone. We are disappointed, but we are not leaving. As of today, 1,438 babies are expected to our moms in St. Joseph County. Our commitment continues.