Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old gay Afghanistan veteran and mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is enjoying something of a moment in the 2020 Democratic primary, has an extremely radical record on abortion. Not only has he seemingly supported New York’s radical abortion bill, but he also went out of his way to veto a pro-life pregnancy center that applied to open across from a planned abortion clinic. That abortion clinic still has not opened, but Buttigieg fought to protect it, anyway.
The mayor’s radical record on abortion makes him guilty of dehumanizing unborn babies, Jacqueline Appleman, executive director at St. Joseph County Right to Life in South Bend told PJ Media.
“Abortion doesn’t just end a life but it dehumanizes all life,” Appleman argued. “You can’t dehumanize one sector of the population without dehumanizing all of life.”
Indeed, abortion activists do not just argue that killing an unborn baby is necessary for the life, health, or economic situation of women facing unplanned pregnancies, but they claim that the life within that woman is not human. They refer to the unborn child — which has unique human DNA — as “a clump of cells.”
Like these activists, Buttigieg suggested there is no person whose life is threatened in abortion. In February, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked the mayor whether he supported abortion laws like the radical New York bill Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) signed into law in January. That law allows abortion throughout pregnancy in the name of protecting a woman’s health, repeals protections for babies who survive abortion, and removes protections for babies killed in the womb. Even pro-choice Americans should oppose the law because it removes fetal homicide protections for wanted babies.
Yet Buttigieg did not oppose the law, choosing instead to support expansions for legal abortion.
“I don’t think we need more restrictions right now,” the mayor said. “I just believe that when a woman is in that situation and when we’re talking about some of those situations covered by that law, extremely difficult, painful, often medically serious situations where life or health of the mother is at stake, the involvement of a male government official like me is not helpful.”
In other words, male politicians should have no ability to protect unborn babies because the only human person in the calculation is the mother.
He has further insisted that abortion is a “personal decision” for the woman, without regard to the dignity of the unborn baby.
Yet Americans do not have to rely on the mayor’s words alone. Buttigieg is one of the few mayors in America with a concrete record on abortion.
“Typically, the abortion issue is handled at the state level, sometimes at the county level, but rarely at the city level,” Appleman told PJ Media.
The Women’s Care Center (WCC), which according to National Review is the nation’s largest network of pregnancy-resource centers with 32 locations in eleven states serving 25,000 women per year, applied for a rezoning permit to open a third center in South Bend. WCC locations offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, confidential counseling, referrals for prenatal care, on-site parenting classes, and resources such as children’s clothing, diapers, and toys.
The South Bend Common Council approved a rezoning plan to allow WCC to open at its chosen location, which was across the street from the planned location for an abortion clinic under Whole Women’s Health Alliance.
Buttigieg took the unusual step of vetoing that rezoning plan, forcing WCC to relocate. “In my judgment, the neighborhood would not benefit from having the zoning law changed in order to place next door to each other two organizations with deep and opposite commitments on the most divisive social issue of our time,” the mayor wrote in a statement.
Ironically, WCC found a new location and is already open, while the abortion clinic has yet to receive a license from the Indiana State Department of Health. The abortion clinic is actually suing, requesting permission to open without a license.
“He denied the zoning for an organization that has a positive long-standing relationship in our city because they would open near a business that may not even open and they are still not open yet, Appleman, the local Right to Life leader, told PJ Media. “I think by vetoing the woman’s care center request for rezoning, he made his decision very clear.”
To make matters worse, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance has a “disreputable character” in South Bend, Appleman said.
“Whole Women’s Health Alliance has a long track record of health violations, being combative, just overall a disreputable character,” she argued.
Indeed, the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance clinic in Houston was faulted for multiple health violations in 2017, including improper management of narcotics and inadequate sterilization. Whole Woman’s Health Alliance has also joined abortion groups in suing Virginia over abortion restrictions.
The Indiana Health Department denied the abortion clinic’s license on the grounds that Whole Woman’s Health Alliance had not submitted a comprehensive list of its connections to other affiliated abortion clinics. The alliance is a nonprofit and claims not to be affiliated with for-profit Whole Woman’s Health clinics, but the department disputes that claim.
Rather than providing the full list of affiliates, the abortion clinic sued, demanding a restraining order against the health department and asking for permission to open without a health license.
“We’re asking them to block the enforcement of the licensing law so we can open,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the alliance’s founder and CEO, told the South Bend Tribune.
Appleman argued that Buttigieg had to know the positive reputation of WCC and likely knew the negative reputation of the alliance.
“He would certainly know the positive relationship that Women’s Care Center had in the community,” she argued. As for the alliance, “if he chose not to look into their character and their business practices, that’s on him.”
Appleman insisted that Buttigieg’s attack on the pro-life pregnancy center was “very intentional.”
“The mayor had to go back and intentionally veto this decision, an intentional stance that he made, to make his views very clear,” she said.
Many pro-life leaders in South Bend immediately attacked Buttigieg’s veto. Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, condemned the move.
“The Women’s Care Center, on whose board I serve, gives women in crisis the support they need for themselves and their babies before and after birth. It doesn’t engage in political advocacy, but provides compassionate, non-judgmental loving care to women most in need,” Jenkins said. “I am saddened by Mayor Buttigieg’s decision to veto a bill that would have allowed the Women’s Care Center to build a facility near one that seeks to provide abortions.”
“The mayor’s decision excludes an important presence from that neighborhood and thwarts plans that had met the criteria for rezoning and had been approved by the Common Council. Far from enhancing the harmony of the neighborhood, it divides our community and diminishes opportunities for vulnerable women to have a real choice,” he added. “The mayor is a talented and dedicated public servant with whom I have worked closely to serve our community, but I am deeply disappointed by his decision.”
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.