(PRESS RELEASE) Next week, a court hearing will be held in the Center for Reproductive Rights‘ and ACLU Indiana’s case against a county ordinance restricting abortion in Fort Wayne-Allen County, Indiana. The ordinance imposes a special set of stringent requirements on doctors who practice in the county, but happen to live outside of the area and do not have privileges to admit patients at local hospitals.
The hearing will be held on Monday, August 9 at 1:30pm, Eastern in the U.S. District Court before Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr. It revolves around the Center’s and the ACLU Indiana’s request for the court to block enforcement of the ordinance until the case is resolved. The county has also asked the court to dismiss the case.
The ordinance is really a duplicitous attempt to limit women’s access to abortion in the Fort Wayne area, not protect their health. Under the pretext of protecting the safety of patients in emergency situations, the ordinance requires that out-of-town doctors secure a “physician designee” and provide various officials and entities with that physician’s name as well as around-the-clock contact information. Doctors also must allow unjustified review of their patients’ medical records by the health department.
Medical providers in Indiana are already regulated under a significant number of state laws and regulations, including emergency procedures. Abortion clinics specifically must provide the health department with written protocols for managing medical emergencies which must “ensure physician coverage and provide for a timely response for emergencies.” The county has no authority under Indiana law to regulate an area that the state has already comprehensively regulated.
In addition, the ACLU’s and Center’s client Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, owner of the medical facility Fort Wayne Women’s Health, is the only provider of surgical abortions in Allen county and within 100 miles. The ordinance would place a significant burden on his practice and prevent him from performing confidential medical care.