INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski is asking the Indiana State Department of Health to reject an abortion provider’s application to open a clinic in South Bend.
The northern Indiana congresswoman said in a letter sent Monday on congressional letterhead that St. Joseph County has made “tremendous progress” in reducing the number of abortions in recent years.
“Indiana and its leaders have worked hard to make meaningful strides to combat the rate of abortions,” Walorski wrote. Those efforts would be “undermined” if the clinic is approved, she wrote.
State health department spokeswoman Jeni O’Malley could not say when a decision would be made on the application.
The Texas-based group that applied to open the clinic, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.
The abortion rights group Pro Choice South Bend blasted Walorski.
“We know she’s not representing all of us,” the group wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. “The best thing we can do is remove her from office next election.”
Indiana lawmakers in recent years have passed laws making it more difficult for clinics to perform abortions. A longtime clinic in South Bend closed after the state revoked Dr. Ulrich Klopfer’s license in 2015. Another clinic in Gary closed that same year.
Around the same time, former Gov. Mike Pence, who is now vice president, awarded a no-bid contract to the anti-abortion non-profit “Real Alternatives,” which says it offers “life-affirming” care and counseling to pregnant women. Real Alternatives has received more than $5 million in payments from the state through July 2017, records show.
The nearest abortion providers to South Bend are currently in Merrillville and Kalamazoo, Michigan.