“Quality Care” for South Bend
Proposed abortion clinic files for emergency injunction
In August 2017, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance filed their initial request for a South Bend clinic. In January 2018, the state denied the application as the clinic “failed to disclose, concealed, or omitted information related to additional clinics.” The organization then appealed, and an administrative judge recommended license approval in September. In November, a state Health Department panel voted 2-1 to reverse the recommendation “because necessary information wasn’t disclosed on an application.” WWHA filed a new application for a license in January of 2019, and recently sued the state of Indiana in a challenge to the constitutionality of statutory and regulatory restrictions on abortion.
Additionally, they sought an injunction and restraining order that would allow clinic doors to open immediately. On April 15, Curtis Hill, Indiana’s state attorney general, filed a brief with the court expressing his opposition to the request. “There is certainly nothing unreasonable nor unconstitutional about requiring abortion clinics to be licensed facilities,” Hill said, and “in fact, maintaining such basic laws is the least we should be doing to protect the health of expectant mothers and accord proper respect to fetal life.”
On April 22, the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance argued its case again for why the organization should be permitted to open a chemical abortion facility in South Bend. A verdict is expected within a few weeks. After the hearing, WWHA president Amy Hagstrom Miller said, “the political, medically unnecessary obstruction on display by the state of Indiana in court today is part a broader agenda to attack abortion providers like Whole Woman’s Health Alliance and push quality care out of reach.”
Are we really to believe that this “quality care” is telling women, particularly women in the west side of South Bend, which is comprised of mainly low-income and minority populations, that an abortion is in their best interest, or is even their only real option? If we fail to expect “quality care” to meet a standard of loving and compassionate support for women who want to choose life, is a choice being presented at all?
“The truth is that low-income people, young people such as students, and most especially women of color and rural women, bear the brunt of these policies,” Hagstrom Miller said. “Any woman in South Bend should be able to safely and legally end a pregnancy with dignity and respect.”
But pushing the notion that abortion is the best and indeed the safest way forward in fact burdens those who are low-income or minority populations. It certainly does not treat anyone, mother or child, with dignity and respect. We as a city must do better to meet all those in South Bend who are pregnant and might be considering abortion. We must tell them the beautiful truth about human life. We will have failed if those facing unexpected pregnancies begin to accept Whole Woman’s assertion that all they can do is choose abortion.
One organization in particular that has been fighting to meet those women in the South Bend community (and beyond) with love and support is the Women’s Care Center, which now has 29 centers in 10 states. The organization serves thousands of mothers and children in Saint Joseph County alone. In 2018, Mayor (now presidential candidate) Pete Buttigieg vetoed a rezoning bill (that had already been approved) that would have permitted the WCC to open a new facility next door to the proposed and, it’s worth noting, rejected, Whole Woman’s Health clinic. He cited concerns of violence or protests, saying that “the neighborhood would not benefit from having the zoning law changed in order to place next door to each other two organizations with deep and opposite commitments on the most divisive social issue of our time.”
But protests do not follow the Women’s Care Center. Where abortion clinics go, sidewalk counselors follow. They choose to be a physical presence for life and attempt to help the women who feel trapped by an unplanned pregnancy know that life is an option. Whether a WCC is next door or not, WWHA will certainly draw a pro-life presence.
As Pete Buttigieg continues to draw national attention in the 2020 presidential race, it is frustrating to see many that I know and love prioritize their hometown hero’s charisma over his radical stance on abortion. He failed, by vetoing the Women’s Care Center, to support an organization that has cared for thousands of children of his constituents. He continues to demonstrate a blatant disrespect for the dignity of all human life, especially of the most vulnerable. When asked about the expansive abortion bills in New York and elsewhere being passed that allow an infant born alive to be left to die, he responded: “When we’re talking about some of those situations covered by that law … the involvement of a male government official like me is not helpful.” That ought to matter.
While Mayor Pete continues to rally followers at town halls, my eyes will be on a courtroom in Indianapolis. The verdict will drastically affect the lives of the citizens Buttigieg claims to have supported so well. Perhaps Mayor Pete should step off of his national platform and address the lives and well-being of those he has claimed to have already met. Start by demanding real quality of care for the low-income and minority populations that policies still fail to meet and to support here in South Bend.
Maggie Garnett is a freshman studying Theology and Constitutional Studies. She loves talking about building a culture of life while drinking Starbucks iced tea she bought with flexpoints she doesn’t have. Chat with her about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.