Record review is part of new tactic by abortion foes
BY CHRISTIN NANCE LAZERUS email@example.com December 14, 2013 1:46PM
Abortion protests are nothing new, but Indiana Right-to-Life recently has stepped up efforts to scrutinize records that abortion clinics must file with the state. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: December 16, 2013 8:44PM
GARY — The Indiana Right To Life news conference, held across the street from a Gary clinic, was partly about targeting a local doctor who performs abortions.
Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, they said, had submitted more than 600 incomplete or incorrect record to the state.
But the event earlier this month also was part of an overall strategy increasingly employed by anti-abortion activists. Klopfer, who also performs abortions in Fort Wayne and South Bend, has been in the group’s sights before, with more than 500 complaints filed against him in Allen County earlier this fall.
Doctors in Indianapolis may soon face the same scrutiny.
The dispute centers around Terminated Pregnancy Reports, which doctors are required to submit to the Indiana Department of Health after performing an abortion. If the abortion is performed on a girl younger than 14, a report also must be submitted to the Department of Child Services within three days to investigate possible abuse.
Indiana Right To Life acquired the reports — with patient names and identifying information blacked-out — through public information requests.
Previously, Klopfer has faced complaints about failing to notify the state within three days in the cases of three 13-year-old girls, including one in Lake County in 2012.
The complaints, which do not document any medical errors, cover the time period between July 2011 and June 2013. They accuse Klopfer of neglecting to include information about the age of the fetus, the patients’ number of previous live births, and other details. The complaints were filed by 20 women in Lake and Porter counties; none were patients of Klopfer and most of the women are affiliated with Right To Life.
Klopfer did not respond to several requests for comment for this story, but his license is categorized as “valid for practice while under review.” According to the Attorney General’s Office, he hasn’t previously been subject to a complaint or discipline.
Indiana Right To Life President/CEO Mike Fichter said the group has been scanning the reports for mistakes for years, but they’ve recently stepped up efforts.
“Throughout the years, we’ve talked to state officials about these errors, but nothing’s ever been done about it,” Fichter said. “We’re not asking them to do something extraordinary.”
The 626 complaints were delivered to the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 3. County prosecutors have jurisdiction in terms of filing criminal charges, such as Class B misdemeanor for failure to complete or submit a report on time.
The complaints also are sent to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, where they are investigated. Public Information Officer Erin Reece said an investigation can result in a formal administrative complaint, which is heard before the state Medical Licensing Board. They can decide whether to suspend a medical license.
Cathie Humbarger, Vice President of media and strategy for Indiana Right To Life, said they’ve been told that as a file builds on a particular doctor, more attention is paid to him or her.
Reece denied that’s the case — saying whether it’s one complaint or 100, each complaint is judged solely on its merits.