Last week news broke that family members of the late South Bend, Indiana abortionist Ulrich George Klopfer had unearthed at his home in northern Illinois preserved remains of more than 2,000 unborn babies. This discovery came just months after a federal court injunction allowed the Texas-based abortion chain Whole Women’s Health to open a new center without the required state license in this Midwestern town where presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg serves as mayor.
These developments raise myriad questions about Buttigieg’s support for Whole Women’s Health, which has a history of violating state laws regarding the disposal of fetal remains and had named a former Klopfer colleague as the clinic director in its South Bend, Indiana licensing application.
Klopfer, who died on September, 3, 2019, has not performed abortions since at least 2016—as far as we know, that is—when the Indiana State Department of Health revoked his medical license indefinitely, finding he violated state law nine times, including by not reporting “an abortion on two girls under the age of 14,” as required by the state. That ended the career of “likely Indiana’s most prolific abortion doctor in history with numbers going into the tens of thousands of procedures in multiple counties over several decades,” reported the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, an Indiana newspaper, in 2016.
It is unclear how Klopfer preserved the dead babies or whether any of the unborn babies were of a gestational age of 20 weeks or later. Indiana law bans such late abortions, except in cases where “necessary” to prevent a “substantial permanent impairment of the life or physical health” of the mother.
Klopfer’s Supporters Open New Abortion Facility
Abortion apologists are already distancing themselves from the now-deceased Klopfer, as they did with Kermit Gosnell, another abortionist with an eerie penchant for collecting body parts from his victims. Yet when the Indiana State Department of Health revoked Klopfer’s license in 2016, abortion supporters told a different story.
When the Indiana State Department of Health pulled Klopfer’s license three years ago, the South Bend abortion clinic that he ran since 1978, The Women’s Pavilion, closed its doors. At the time, activists such as Pro-Choice South Bend Director Liam Morley expressed gratitude “for the abortions that Dr. Klopfer provided to the community for over 30 years.” Klopfer, a doctor of osteopathy, also performed abortions in Gary and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
At the time, Morley, who had worked at Klopfer’s South Bend facility, also suggested that a series of law branded “TRAP laws,” or “Targeted Regulations Against Abortion Providers,” by abortion advocates, may have led to the revocation of Klopfer’s license. “Those laws impose staffing requirements or facility modifications that clinics can’t afford.” “We can see some of those replicated in Indiana,” Morley told WSBT in South Bend, adding “Laws like the waiting laws, 18 hours in Indiana. Those cause problems.”
Pro-Choice South Bend later proved instrumental to opening the Whole Women’s Health abortion facility in South Bend. After Klopfer’s abortion facility closed, “abortion advocates working under the name Pro Choice South Bend” reached out to the founder and CEO of Whole Women’s Health, Amy Hagstrom Miller, “to see if she’d be interested in opening a clinic there.” According to Rewire, the outgoing director of Pro Choice South Bend, Jamie Morgan, confirmed the group’s decision to approach Whole Woman’s Health.
But later, Morley, who identified herself to the South Bend Tribune as “director of the Pro Choice South Bend group,” maintained that her organization “was not directly involved in efforts to launch another clinic.” Nonetheless, “volunteers with Pro Choice South Bend have been working behind the scenes to rally local support.”
Morley, however, did more than that: When the Texas-based chain first applied for a license, the state rejected the application because it failed to name a clinic administrator, so Morley lent her name. The revised application named Morley as the clinic administrator and she signed that application swearing that the “owner(s) and operator(s) are of reputable and reasonable character, are able to comply with . . . and operate and maintain the clinic in accordance with’ Indiana’s governing abortion clinic statutes.”
Morley appears to have no connection to the now-opened clinic, though, with a recent Chicago Tribune article identifying Brenda Morgan as the acting clinic manager. Neither Morley nor Pro Choice South Bend responded to multiple requests for comment.
Jessica Shein, the director of communications for Whole Woman’s Health, told The Federalist they were forced to let Morley go in February 2018, because the grant that funded her position ran out before the South Bend clinic opened. Shein, however, did not respond to The Federalist’s question concerning whether Whole Woman’s Health knew of Morley’s history with Klopfer’s clinic.
The Indiana State Health Department denied Whole Women’s Health’s application for an abortion facility license, finding it had failed to meet state’s requirement of having a “reputable and responsible character,” and because it had failed to provide requested information related to other Whole Women’s Health clinics.
Eventually, the abortion provider decided to circumvent the state regulators and sued in federal court, challenging Indiana’s regulations and its denial of a license to operate as an abortion clinic. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a temporary injunction, allowing Whole Women’s Health to open without a license.
State officials called it “deeply troubling” for the federal judiciary to authorize an abortion clinic to open without complying with state licensing requirements. A spokesperson for Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill reacted to the ruling by noting that “Indiana will stand strong to protect women and unborn children by ensuring that its duly-enacted abortion regulations are properly enforced and defended.”
Buttigieg Supports Unlicensed Abortion Facilities
Conversely, Mayor Buttigieg, who recently suggested abortions were biblically permissible until a baby has breathed his first breath, praised the decision. Buttigieg’s national press secretary Chris Meagher told the Chicago Tribune that “the mayor is deeply concerned by what he views as a new and extreme assault on Roe v. Wade” and he applauded the South Bend clinic as providing abortion “care” where there was an unmet need.
Buttigieg’s support of the Whole Woman’s Health abortion facility, however, is but half of the story. The other half concerns Buttigieg’s outrageous decision to veto a rezoning decision made by the South Bend Common Council that, absent his veto, would have allowed the Women’s Care Center—a national pregnancy and family resource center—to open a planned center next door to the abortion facility. The Women’s Care Center had previously operated a center mere feet from Klopfer’s South Bend facility.
In justifying his veto, Buttigieg expressly cited the lobbying by Whole Woman’s Health, which had “written to express the view that they would be harmed by such a re-zoning.” According to Buttigieg, “they cite research indicating that clinics in close proximity to crisis pregnancy center(sic) experience significantly higher rates of violence, threats, and harassment (21.7%) than those not near such a center (6.8%).”
Those statistics are not only fake, they are unrelated to the Women’s Care Center, which has never seen an act of violence connected to any of its national collection of pregnancy and family resource centers. The veto also backfired, as the Women’s Care Center succeeded in opening a new location across the street from Whole Women’s Health, in a location already properly zoned. That locale provides a quiet and peaceful place for women facing crisis pregnancies to obtain support, while protestors target the abortion facility across the street.
Whole Woman’s Health to Ensure the Body Count Rises
Indiana continues to litigate its denial of a license for Whole Women’s Health, even while the chain has started providing abortions at its South Bend location. The recent discovery of the preserved bodies of the dead aborted babies at Klopfer’s home should give courts pause to substitute their judgment for that of the State Departments of Health. That’s especially true in light of the more than $40,000 in fines Texas imposed on the Whole Woman Health abortion facilities in Austin and McAllen, for improperly disposing of aborted babies in a landfill—something that occurred under Hagstrom Miller’s watch as president and CEO of the chain of abortion clinics.
To date, Whole Woman’s Health has attempted to downplay these reports, claiming anti-abortion activists have used “clinic inspection reports in other states as purported evidence that the abortion provider was not safe.” “These licensing requirements include periodic inspections by state health departments, which often find minor deficiencies that are promptly corrected by clinics,” Whole Woman’s Health has argued, also saying that pro-life advocates “often mischaracterize these minor deficiencies as gross health violations that threaten patient safety.”
Whole Woman’s Health’s spin rings a familiar tone: At the time the Indiana Department of Health pulled Klopfer’s license, his attorney, Mary Watts, downplayed the state’s findings of misconduct, saying “the case is about forms and not about the standard of care patients received.” “He provided good medical care for his patients and did his best to follow the law,” Watts maintained. “It’s a question of documentation.”
But now that we know documentation means dead bodies, Whole Women’s Health, Buttigieg, and the Seventh Circuit have some explaining to do.