Pro-Choice campaign sparks conversation in South Bend

Whole Woman's Health campaign // WSBT 22

A group that's pushing to open an abortion clinic in South Bend is trying to spark a conversation.

Whole Woman's Health has purchased billboards around the city, laying out why it thinks the clinic is needed.

The state denied the group's license request but Whole Woman's Health is working on an appeal. In a statement they wrote:

"Whole Woman’s Health Alliance sees this as a straightforward case that the State is unnecessarily trying to delay the process.
This is straightforward license application matter that can be resolved quickly through a hearing on the merits. However, unfortunately, rather than move quickly towards presenting each of our cases to the Administrative Law Judge, the State has expressed a desire to engage in potentially extensive discovery and thereby delay WWHA’s ability to present its case and obtain a resolution. The Administrative Law Judge will be holding another hearing in April where we will be checking in about the status of the discovery that the State has insisted on.
Let’s be clear that the State's delay tactics are denying women in this region access to the services they want and are legally entitled to. The State should be facilitating access to high-quality, affordable health care, not creating unnecessary obstacles; and, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance will ultimately prevail in these proceedings because the State's reasons for denying us a license are bogus. But our patients will suffer in the meantime. The State's actions demonstrate a total lack of respect and empathy for the women of Indiana."

Despite this new billboard campaign there are plenty of people in South Bend who say they don't want to see the clinic built.

"I’m a member of this community and I’m in touch with the feelings of this community and our community has rejected abortion as a solution to crisis pregnancy,” said Kate Adams.

Adams says she's lived in South Bend for most of her life. She is one of many residents with a Pro-Life sign on her front yard.

"What we are embracing is the philosophy of love them both – the mother and the child. We embrace non-violent solutions to crisis pregnancies,” said Adams.

St. Joseph County Right to Life agrees. It said in a statement:

"Life is our most fundamental right, and our most precious gift. Abortion and euthanasia end innocent human lives while shattering countless others physically, emotionally, and spiritually. St. Joseph County Right to Life saves children, women, and men from the devastating effects of abortion and euthanasia and works to protect innocent human life from fertilization to natural death."

Adams says when a woman walks into an abortion clinic there are two casualties.

"Abortion is not good for a woman and that has been demonstrated and obviously, the child dies. So, yeah, that's harm,” Adams said.

Whole Woman's Health has a different message about abortion. Its billboards say "Women in South Bend need abortion care without shame or stigma."

The Director of the Women and Gender Studies program at IU South Bend, April Lidinsky, agrees.

She says "All women deserve accessible and affordable all-options care, with dignity and compassion -- and without political obstruction."

But Adams says there are better alternatives.

"We have a great organization in our community called the women's care center and there are great options for crisis pregnancies violence is never a solution,” Adams said.

Late this afternoon Whole Woman's Health responded to questions about their billboard campaign.

Fatimah Gifford, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, said in a statement:

"Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend will bring quality abortion care to the community. We launched this campaign to counter misinformation about Whole Woman’s Health Alliance and about abortion in this community. Women and families everywhere need access to abortion care without shame and stigma and this campaign highlights these positive messages about who we are. We will take a bold stance to advocate and educate the South Bend community on what abortion stigma and restrictions do to women.
Due to the attacks on abortion in Indiana, only six clinics remain in the state. Many women are forced to drive three hours to access abortion care. Women and families deserve better.
Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend has encountered anti-choice roadblocks that ultimately prevent women within our community from getting the healthcare that they need. Politicians should stop playing with women’s lives. South Bend deserves access to full spectrum reproductive healthcare, and that includes abortion."
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