South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has thrown his support behind an abortion clinic tied to the late Ulrich Klopfer, who was discovered to have stored the remains of more than 2,000 babies in his home.
On Friday, Illinois authorities announced that they had discovered more than 2,000 bodies of aborted babies in Dr. Ulrich Klopfer's home following his death. Klopfer was one of South Bend's leading abortion providers before the state pulled his medical license in 2016 for failing to properly report "an abortion on two girls under the age of 14." After Klopfer's clinic was shut down, Buttigieg blocked the opening of a pro-life pregnancy center and endorsed the opening of a new Whole Woman's Health abortion clinic tied to one of Klopfer's former employees.
"The South Bend clinic would be the only one for a radius of several counties," Buttigieg's national press secretary Chris Meagher told the Chicago Tribune in August. "It is a restriction on a woman's right if she is low-income, or doesn’t have a vehicle, and she has to visit multiple times, but the clinic is dozens of miles away."
The initial licensing application for Whole Woman's Health listed former Klopfer employee Liam Morley as the clinic's administrator. Buttigieg gave the clinic a boost in 2018 when he vetoed a proposal to open a pro-life pregnancy center near the Whole Woman's Health site. The Buttigieg campaign did not return request for comment about Klopfer and whether the latest revelation affected his support for Whole Woman's Health.
Klopfer operated the Women's Pavilion clinic from 1978 until its 2016 closure. Pro-life groups questioned what role city regulators played in overseeing the clinic. Terry Schilling, executive director at the American Principles Project, said Buttigieg, who was elected in 2011, owes voters an explanation about how Klopfer could continue to operate "under Mayor Pete's watch." He accused the Democratic 2020 candidate of turning a blind eye to abortion, pointing to Buttigieg's claims that the Bible justifies the practice.
"No one should be shocked that a man running for president while twisting Christian Scripture to justify post-birth abortion has ties to a sick and demented abortionist," Schilling said. "Buttigieg can't even manage a town, let alone a nation."
In May, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law mandating that aborted babies receive proper burials, rather than being treated as medical waste. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, said Klopfer's behavior demonstrated why such laws are necessary. She compared the Illinois investigation to abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murdering several babies in his Philadelphia clinic.
"This devastating discovery proves Kermit Gosnell’s ‘House of Horrors' was not an outlier and shows the U.S. Supreme Court ruled correctly in upholding Indiana's law, signed by then-Governor Mike Pence, requiring the humane and dignified disposition of human fetal remains," Dannenfelser said. "We hope Klopfer's victims will finally be treated with respect, and that this atrocity will awaken hearts and consciences across the nation to the brutal reality of abortion."
Whole Woman's Health did not return request for comment about Klopfer and Morley's ties to the proposed South Bend site. Whole Woman's Health has had its own issues with clinic safety regulations, having committed dozens of health and safety violations in three Texas facilities between 2011 and 2017. Regulators cited these clinics for not having a registered nurse on staff, inadequate sterilization of equipment, and missing supplies of the deadly opioid fentanyl, among other violations.
Update 2:05 p.m. (9/16/2019)
A spokeswoman from Whole Woman's Health said Morley was no longer connected to the clinic. Whole Woman's Health President Amy Hagstrom Miller said she was "shocked" by the discovery in a statement, adding that the South Bend clinic would "adhere to the highest healthcare standards."
"All of us at Whole Woman’s Health Alliance are shocked by yesterday’s news," she said. "We join the community seeking more information and awaiting the results of the investigation."
*This story has been updated to include comment from Whole Woman's Health