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Indiana county’s regulations on abortion survive ACLU challenge

Women’s protections through Patient Safety Ordinance left largely intact after abortionist dismisses lawsuit against Allen County

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have secured an extremely favorable settlement for Allen County that retains virtually all of the county’s Patient Safety Ordinance, which was introduced last year to extend regulations protecting women to itinerant physicians, including abortionists.

Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit last May on behalf of an abortionist wanting to strike down the entire patient safety law, which was designed to protect patient health and safety throughout the county.

“A patient’s health is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “This settlement means the county will not have to put the health and safety of patients at risk just because one man wanted to perform abortions without the same sensible safety precautions that apply to all out-of-town surgeons. The ordinance makes sure that patients receive appropriate treatment in the event that a medical emergency arises after itinerant physicians have gone back home and are no longer available to care for their patients.”

The rule introduced last year requires that itinerant physicians--those who only have part-time or temporary offices in the county--must provide patients and area hospitals with 24-hour contact information and the name of a second physician designated for patient follow-up. Dr. Ulrich Klopfer objected to the ordinance because he was unable to find a local physician willing to be his back-up contact when he was out of town. The information is necessary in the event of medical emergencies that arise from the treatment itinerant doctors provide, as they are not always available after they leave the county and return home.

In August, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana issued an order granting a preliminary injunction against minor provisions of the ordinance involving health department inspections, but it approved most of the provisions while the lawsuit moved forward. With the settlement in Fort Wayne Women’s Health v. Board of Commissioners, the key provisions of the ordinance that provide safeguards for patient protection will be finalized into a court order.

  • Pronunciation guide: Klopfer (KLOPP’-fur)

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.