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Faith leaders bless South Bend abortion clinic in support of reproductive rights

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Gemma DiCarlo
/
WVPE News
Michiana faith leaders perform a blessing inside the Whole Woman's Health clinic in South Bend.

In the wake of the leaked Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade and a failed Senate vote to codify abortion rights, local clergy members gathered Thursday to bless South Bend’s lone abortion clinic.

Faith leaders gathered at the Whole Woman’s Health clinic to show their support for reproductive rights and health care workers.

Reverend Marie Siroky said the ideas that life begins at conception and that abortion is morally wrong aren’t supported by most religious texts — or by most religious people.

“There’s no tradition — there’s no spirituality — that puts the life of a fetus over the mother. None,” she said. “Even Catholicism mentions, when they talk of a woman being raped, in the canons it says that she should not be forced to have a pregnancy over an act of violence.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, individual states would be allowed to criminalize or outlaw abortion without exceptions for rape, incest or maternal health.

“An abortion is a medical procedure,” Whole Woman’s Health Alliance managing director Sonja Miller said. “In this country, we have politicized it and created all kinds of extremely toxic and dangerous narratives of faith — religious narratives — around a medical procedure.”

Sharon Lau, Midwest advocacy director for Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, said for every 100,000 patients denied abortion care in Indiana, 20-35 would likely die in childbirth or pregnancy due to the state’s high maternal mortality rates.

“The only other option to abortion is childbirth,” she said. “It’s the same — it’s just two different procedures for one pregnancy situation.”

Indiana lawmakers have asked Governor Eric Holcomb to call a special session in the event of an overturn, but he hasn’t confirmed whether he’ll do so.

Lau said the organization isn’t opposed to challenging new state legislation if it’s passed.

“We have never shied away from suing people. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance — one of our missions is purposeful litigation,” she said. “I can’t speak to any specific lawsuit, but certainly… if there are opportunities to do that, we will certainly look at all those options.”

Last summer, the group won a lawsuit in U.S district court that struck down many of Indiana’s abortion laws. Lau said the case is awaiting a hearing in the circuit court pending the Supreme Court’s official decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Regardless of litigation, Lau said the needs of the community won’t change if Roe is overturned.

“They will still have the same need to seek the health care that they need, no matter what the law is going to say,” she said. “From our perspective, we’re going to be here to provide care to the patients who need it for as long as we can to as many patients as we can.”

The Supreme Court is expected to make a final decision on Dobbs in the coming months.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.