Judge’s order could let South Bend abortion clinic open

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — An Indiana judge has recommended that a proposed abortion clinic be allowed to open in South Bend, despite the state Department of Health’s rejection of the operator’s license application.

Indianapolis judge Clare Deitchman issued the order Friday recommending that the Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance be granted the license, the South Bend Tribune reported.

The group’s founder and president, Amy Hagstrom Miller, called the decision a “big win” following a “long, uphill battle.

It follows a two-day hearing last month over the proposed facility, which would offer medication-induced abortions to women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant.

The state health department previously concluded that the nonprofit failed to meet requirements of having “reputable and responsible character” and didn’t disclose necessary information on its application.

Deitchman said the state failed to show the license application was “incomplete or inaccurate.”

Unless the state objects to her order by Oct. 2, it will become final and the clinic can open. However, if the state objects, the matter would be decided by a three-member panel appointed by the department that would include a judge and two state health board members.

Jeni O’Malley, a spokeswoman for the state health department, said in an emailed statement that the agency has “received the order and is reviewing it.”

The nonprofit was among three plaintiffs that filed a lawsuit in June challenging dozens of Indiana’s abortion restrictions.