Judge rules abortion clinic can open in South Bend
A judge has ruled in an abortion clinic's favor to open a location in South Bend.
That could pave the way for Whole Woman's Health Alliance to get a state license to open a facility at this site on the city's west side.
In today's ruling, the judge says it does not appear that the group's application for a license was incomplete or inaccurate.
The judge says the Indiana State Department of Health failed to show that Whole Woman's Health Alliance lacks reputable and responsible character -- as it had claimed.
The ISDH has 30 days to file an appeal.
In their closing arguments during a two-day appeal hearing in Indianapolis last month, lawyers for the department insisted Whole Woman's Health Alliance was not open and honest in its application.
WSBT 22 talked to the founder of Whole Woman's Health Alliance. She says this is the justice she has been hoping for.
She says it's been a year long fight for justice, but today is a step in the right direction.
The Whole Woman's Health Alliance building sits empty on Lincoln Way West in South Bend. But the clinic could soon open its doors to the public.
"Today we had a really big win," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, Whole Woman's Health Alliance founder. "It has been a long uphill battle and all along we have felt that we were unjustly denied our license and today the judge agreed with us."
The state Department of Health's denied the license back in January.
It says the clinic failed to meet requirements.
But the judge saw no evidence to indicate that the clinic's application was incomplete or inaccurate.
"It’s been a rough year. We’ve been accused of a lot of things and we have had to go through a pretty grueling administrative precedence to prove that we have always been open and honest and that we have been truthful all along."
The President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life responded to the judge's ruling by saying, "If Whole Woman's Health Alliance starts doing abortions as a result of this judicial decision, we anticipate thousands of lives to be lost to abortion. We urge the State Department of Health to appeal this decision and protect innocent, human lives in South Bend.
The state has 30 days to appeal the decision. But the Whole Woman's Health Alliance does not think the state has any basis to file an appeal.
"The judge ruled very strongly that there is no reason to deny us a license," said Hagstrom. "So if the state does appeal I think it’s really in a political environment and it’s really a delay tactic, it doesn’t have any merit."
We reached out to the State Department of Health but it's still reviewing the order.
Whole Woman's Health Alliance is waiting to see what their next steps are.
It says the building and equipment is ready. All they need is the license.