Indiana Attorney General Asks U.S. Court Of Appeals For A Stay In South Bend Abortion Clinic Case

Jun 10, 2019

 

 

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill
Credit Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana's Attorney General has filed more paperwork today with the courts to stop the Whole Woman's Health Alliance from opening in South Bend.

Below is a release from Hill's office:

Attorney General Curtis Hill on Monday asked a U.S appellate court to stop the immediate opening of an unlicensed abortion clinic in South Bend.

On May 31, a federal district court granted a preliminary injunction allowing the Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance to open a clinic for providing chemical abortions despite lacking the required license from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). In chemical abortions, one type of medication is used to kill the fetus followed by another medication to induce the woman to expel it.

On June 2, Attorney General Hill appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He also filed a motion with the district court seeking an immediate stay that would have prevented the unlicensed clinic from opening until Indiana’s appeal could be considered.

On June 7, the federal district court denied the motion for a stay – prompting Attorney General Hill to seek the intervention of the U.S. Court of Appeals in issuing a stay.

“The district court has declared that something as ordinary and fundamental as state licensing – which the state does for everything from nursing homes to daycares – can be invalidated in the name of the right to abortion,” Attorney General Hill said. “This ruling turns the right to abortion into a cudgel against state licensing laws that the Supreme Court long ago declared to be perfectly valid.”

The ISDH previously has denied Whole Woman’s Health a license after the entity failed to provide such requested information as documentation about the safety record of affiliated clinics in other states.

“The preliminary injunction threatens irreparable harm to Indiana women because it allows Whole Woman’s Health to open an unlicensed and unregulated abortion clinic,” Attorney General Hill said. “Indiana has no way of ensuring that an unlicensed abortion clinic is complying with its other requirements or to ensure that patients are being given safe and proper care.”

Further, Attorney General Hill noted, a licensed abortion clinic already operates west of South Bend in the town of Merrillville.

“The whole point of professional licensing regulation is to protect consumers from suffering injury,” Attorney General Hill said. “The risk of harm to women by allowing unlicensed clinics to dispense chemical abortions outweighs any speculative burdens faced by Whole Woman’s Health or women who must otherwise travel a mere 65 miles for an abortion.”

 

More background information reported earlier by the Associated Press:

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker on Friday denied Attorney General Curtis Hill's request for an immediate stay to prevent the South Bend clinic — which would perform medication-induced abortions for women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant — from opening until Indiana's appeal is considered.

Barker granted an injunction on May 31 allowing the Texas-based Whole Woman's Health Alliance to open the clinic without a state-required license, pending a final ruling in a federal lawsuit on the clinic's license that's set for trial before her in August 2020.

Hill's office appealed to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and sought a stay to prevent the clinic from opening before the appeal is heard.

Barker said in her ruling Friday that she issued the injunction "on the prospect that the South Bend Clinic could and will be regulated by the state, in light of the history of abortion regulation in Indiana and of the existing statutory and regulatory framework.

"Moreover, every single day, Indiana permits licensed physicians 'to dispense powerful hormone-curbing, abortion-inducing, uterus-contracting prescription drugs' in unlicensed facilities — so long as those drugs are dispensed to women not seeking abortions," she wrote.

Barker, who was nominated as a judge by President Ronald Reagan, is also weighing whether to block an Indiana law set to take effect July 1 that would largely ban a second-trimester abortion procedure.

Hill said in a statement Monday that Barker's ruling "declared that something as ordinary and fundamental as state licensing - which the state does for everything from nursing homes to daycares - can be invalidated in the name of the right to abortion."

"This ruling turns the right to abortion into a cudgel against state licensing laws that the Supreme Court long ago declared to be perfectly valid," he said.

Whole Woman's Health Alliance first applied for a state license in October 2017, but the State Department of Health denied its license application in early 2018. State officials have said the alliance hasn't provided requested safety documentation.

An administrative law judge recommended that the denial be reversed in a review of Whole Woman's Health Alliance's license request, but ultimately a second license application was denied. A spokeswoman for the nonprofit said last week that it plans to open the clinic in "the coming weeks."The state already has three abortion clinics in Indianapolis, one in Bloomington, one in Lafayette and one in Merrillville.