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Whole Woman's Health officials react to Indiana AG's appeal to stop abortion clinic from opening

NOW: Whole Woman’s Health officials react to Indiana AG’s appeal to stop abortion clinic from opening

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- An abortion clinic will soon open its doors in South Bend thanks to a ruling from a federal judge Friday but the state is once again trying to stop that from happening.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill filed documents Sunday aimed at stopping the unlicensed clinic from operating. Hill asked for an immediate stay of Federal Judge Sarah Even Baker’s ruling.

Clinic officials said the move was expected and that it’s not going to stop them from providing their services.

Hill said that allowing the clinic to operate without a license would cause harm to patients but officials with the Whole Woman's Health clinic said that that is just not true.

“It’s really only abortion clinics that have this extra license kind of scheme,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman's Health said. “Our licensing that we’re going to be subject to and the standards we are going to keep at Whole Woman's Health Alliance in South Bend would be the same as it is at your OBGYN office, your family medicine doctor, all the clinic where you are used to getting your health care.”  

The licensing battle has been at the center of the clinic’s struggle to open in South Bend. In January 2018, the Indiana State Department of Health denied the denied the clinic’s initial license application.

The injunction issued in federal court Friday is what is now allowing the clinic to operate without a license from the state.

“It’s political in nature, not really advancing women’s health and safety,” Hagstrom Miller said of the state’s denial of their license application.

Hagstrom Miller said the state licensing has no impact on their ability to operate and perform medical procedures safely.

ABC57 spoke with the pro-life, Right-To-Life group based out of South Bend who strongly disagrees with that Saturday. They called the clinic’s ability to operate without a license from the state “dangerous.”

“Even our hair and nail salons and restaurants need to be licensed and so for a medical organization that wants to do procedures and hand out prescriptions to not be licensed? Its nonsense,” said Jackie Appleman, Executive Director at St. Joseph County Right To Life.

It’s not clear yet when exactly the clinic will open. Hagstrom Miller said the clinic is fully furnished and equipped but they’re waiting on finalizing protocols and some paper work before giving away an opening date.

What is clear for Hagstrom Miller and her team is that the immediate stay requested by the AG is not going to affect their plans to open as soon as possible.

“Until such time as something is actually decided we’re definitely proceeding with getting the doors open and being able to serve women in the community,” Hagstrom Miller said.

Hagstrom Miller’s views that the states actions are politically motivated are shared by Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

His national team said he was asked Monday about his thoughts on the attorney general’s move.

He said: “I view the attorney generals actions as politically motivated. I don’t think they will withstand the courts under current case laws.”

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