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South Bend Abortion Clinic Wins Latest Fight In Court

Whole woman's health alliance logo

((Courtesy of Whole Woman's Health Alliance))

A recently-opened South Bend clinic that performs abortions gets to stay open after a federal appeals court ruling issued Thursday.

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance tried to open a clinic in South Bend since 2017. But the state refused to issue a license, citing what it said was incomplete and inaccurate information in the application.

After a lengthy administrative appeal failed, the Alliance tried to apply a second time late last year. And after the state again threw up roadblocks, the health care organization sued.

A federal district judge sided with the Alliance in June and temporarily blocked the state from enforcing any of its licensing system on the clinic. And the South Bend facility opened.

A federal appellate court has now sided with the Alliance, too – but in a narrower way. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in part with the district judge's ruling; it says the state's licensing process for the South Bend clinic amounted to "scorched earth tactics." 

"A seemingly endless cycle of demands for information, responses, and new demands does not suggest a bona fide process," the decision states.

"At some point," Chief Judge Diane Wood writes, "enough is enough."

But the latest ruling does not exempt the South Bend facility from the entire licensing system. Instead, the clinic should continue operating as if it has a provisional license – allowing the state to regulate it, but not block it from opening or simply shut it down.

Contact Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5

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