Abortion Chain Appeals State Health Department’s Decision

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) denied licensure to Texas-based abortion-provider Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA) for the operation of an abortion clinic in South Bend. The organization is seeking a license to provide non-surgical abortions and has since appealed the decision, sending it to a judge for administrative review.

Dr. Kristina Box, the current Indiana State Health Commissioner, sent a Notice of Application License Denial to the organization on Wednesday, January 3. In it, Box outlined WWHA’s failure to adequately comply with the Department’s requests for more information on multiple occasions. The Notice read, “In response to the Department’s request to list all of the abortion and healthcare facilities currently operated by WWHA, its parent, affiliate, and subsidiary organizations, WWHA failed to disclose, concealed, or omitted information related to additional clinics.”

The Notice went on to conclude that WWHA “failed to meet the requirement that the Applicant is of reputable and responsible character” and was denied licensure. The organization was given until January 23 to appeal the decision.

In an interview with WNDU, Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of WWHA, told viewers of her intent to seek administrative review, saying, “[i]f there is one thing you can know about [WWHA] it’s that we are going to be determined. We are committed. We’d like to open our doors to serve the community as soon as we can.”

News of the organization’s application to open a new abortion clinic broke in October. At the time, Notre Dame Right to Life responded with multiple opportunities for club members to take action against the opening of a new abortion clinic. Sophomore Talia Caridi, then spirituality commissioner for the club, led a Novena to Divine Mercy for the conversion of those promoting the new abortion clinic, state and local officials, medical practitioners, and expectant mothers. Club members were invited to gather in the Cavanaugh Chapel each of the nine days to pray the Novena together.

Caridi discussed why she felt it important to lead the Novena, saying, “As a club community which seeks to defend the dignity and life of all people, it would seem unacceptable to remain passive as a group from Texas attempted to bring the harmful act of abortion into our own neighborhood.”

In addition to praying the Novena, the club circulated a petition to deny licensure for the clinic amongst Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students, staff, and faculty. The petition garnered over 560 signatures and was sent directly to Box and other other employees of the Indiana State Department of Health.

Notre Dame Right to Life president Sarah Drumm, who helped coordinate the Novena and petition, was excited to learn of the denial. She shared her reaction with the Rover, saying, “I am glad the clinic was declined licensure because I don’t believe abortion helps women or families.” She later continued, “I believe that the best health care for South Bend women will not be found at WWHA,” and pointed to the work of community health clinics such as the Maura Brannick Clinic and the Olive Street Health Center as models for health care in Saint Joseph County.

Caridi also shared her reaction to the denial, saying, “This victory for the pro-life movement is a testament to the faithfulness of our God and the power of Divine Mercy.”

Saint Joseph County, of which South Bend is a part, has been free of any abortion clinic since the Women’s Pavilion stopped performing abortions in 2015 and permanently shut its doors in 2016 due to health and safety violations. Following that closure, the county saw a nearly 50 percent drop in abortions performed on its residents according to a letter written by Representative Jackie Walorski to Box at the ISDH.

It remains unknown to the public when a decision will be made regarding WWHA’s appeal. The Rover will update readers when a decision is released or if more information is made available.  

Matt Connell is a junior marketing major living in Sorin College. You can contact him at mconnel6@nd.edu.