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11/10/2017 10:57:00 AM
Debate over reproductive rights heats up in St. Joseph County
Casie Farnsworth, of South Bend, wears a costume that reads “I love my birth control” as she speaks to a crowd of protesters outside Rep. Jackie Walorski’s office Thursday in Mishawaka. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN
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Casie Farnsworth, of South Bend, wears a costume that reads “I love my birth control” as she speaks to a crowd of protesters outside Rep. Jackie Walorski’s office Thursday in Mishawaka. Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN

Ted Booker, South Bend Tribune

MISHAWAKA — A local debate is heating up over reproductive rights.

On one side, prochoice advocates are supporting an effort by Texas-based Whole Woman's Health Alliance to launch an abortion clinic on South Bend’s west side.

On the other side, pro-life advocates are focused on efforts to prevent the abortion clinic, which is planned to open in a space at 3511 Lincoln Way W.

On Thursday, the prochoice side held a rally outside the Mishawaka office of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski. They made a push for a law —the Protect Access to Birth Control Act — that would reverse changes approved by the administration of President Donald Trump, which allow employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions.

Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, which operates abortion clinics in eight cities, has applied for a license with the Indiana State Department of Health. Its application is still under review.

The health department couldn’t say how long the review process is expected to last, saying it has “requested additional information.” The nonprofit has asked the state to revoke certain licensing requirements because it would provide only medical abortions — not surgical ones.

Tension between the two sides of the debate played out during the rally, which was held by Pro Choice South Bend and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky.

Osceola resident Jenna Dyer, who is pro-life, stood across the street from the pro-choice crowd. She and her young sons held up large posters of aborted fetuses, and she shouted to alert the pro-choice crowd.

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