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Indiana mayor blocks pro-life pregnancy center from opening next to abortion facility

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SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana has intervened to block a pro-life pregnancy center from opening next to a planned abortion facility.

Last week, the South Bend common council voted 5-4 to approve a petition by Women’s Care Center (WCC) to rezone a residence next to a property where the Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA) plans to begin offering non-surgical abortions, the South Bend Tribune reports. But Mayor Pete Buttigieg vetoed it on April 27.

"How unfortunate that the Women’s Care Center has been denied in its own hometown the opportunity to expand their compassionate services to a location where it could best reach the women who could benefit most," Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, lamented following the decision.

Buttigieg claimed his decision had nothing to do with “issues on the legality or morality of abortion,” but was based on the conclusion that it would be irresponsible to “situate two groups, literally right next to each other, in a neighborhood, that have diametrically opposed views on the most divisive social issue of our time.”

However, despite his claim not to be taking sides between abortion friends and foes, Buttigieg’s letter explaining the decision confirmed he was accepting and acting on a complaint from the abortion facility.

“Whole Women’s Health Alliance has written to express the view that they would be harmed by such a re-zoning,” the letter reads. “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%).”

The local group Pro-Choice South Bend collected more than 400 signatures on a petition to kill the zoning proposal.

The pro-life pregnancy center, which was founded in South Bend but has locations in ten states, has pledged to forbid protests on its property, and the center’s Vice President, Jenny Hunsberger, said there “has never been an instance in violence” in the organization’s 34-year history, despite having 22 locations situated beside abortion facilities. But opponents still raised concerns about protesters gathering in the public right-of-way in front of the property.

Council Vice President Oliver Davis, who had backed the pregnancy center’s proposal, expressed confidence that the city’s police were sufficient to guarantee safety during any manner of political demonstration, and warned that Buttigieg’s decision set a dangerous precedent.

“I’m concerned...now that a group can come before a zoning board and say, ‘We don’t like that group...so we don’t want them next to us,’” he said.

On Tuesday, The Federalist senior contributor Margot Cleveland wrote a piece detailing the services Buttigieg kept out of the location.

“As a pregnancy and family resource center, Women’s Care focuses solely on providing concrete help to women facing unplanned pregnancies, offering pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, and baby supplies, such as cribs and diapers,” she wrote. “The staff also assists clients with obtaining prenatal care and other necessary social services.”

In addition, WCC “offers bilingual parenting classes and books to fill homes with literacy, and provides goals counseling that allows parents to complete school, obtain jobs, and become self-sufficient,” Cleveland continued. “It also rewards parents with free shopping sprees in the Crib Club ‘stores,’ stocked with new clothing and supplies for their fast-growing children.”

The common council would require six votes, one more than the proposal’s original approval, to override the mayor’s veto. The council’s next regular meeting takes place on May 14.

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