Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend: It Takes A Village

By April Lidinsky

I am proud to be among community members who sparked the idea of bringing a Whole Woman’s Health Alliance clinic to South Bend. I have lived in South Bend for 26 years. I have raised children here, I teach at a local university, and I have spent decades engaging with community groups as a Girl Scout leader, campaign volunteer for countless candidates, and social justice advocate on a variety of issues.  

As I listened to the students, neighbors and community members talk about their lives and the frustrating barriers to fulfilling their dreams, it was clear: South Bend faced a serious gap in reproductive health care. We needed an abortion provider who could offer empowering, respectful and holistic care. 

I am part of a multigenerational group of advocates and experienced physicians who had long admired the vision and work of Amy Hagstrom Miller’s Whole Woman’s Health clinics, and so we began a conversation about the possibility of establishing one in South Bend. 

I’m sure all of us who participated remember the electricity of Amy and her team’s first visit here on a snowy February evening. We gathered around a warmly lit table over a bountiful homemade feast, and Amy’s laughter and compassion animated the long evening of women’s voices, our stories weaving together with our hopes. Amy asked each of us why we were drawn to abortion care, a question no one had ever asked me directly.  We all spoke in turn, and I remember Amy’s perspective vividly: It is an honor to be with people who are at crossroads in their lives, and to offer them the context and resources to support a decision that will profoundly shape their trajectory. Whole Woman’s Health believes patients have the right to own this moment, and to be empowered by their decision.  

The right to be empowered: I hold this thought in mind as I stand in my pink “pro-choice clinic escort” gear and open my big rainbow umbrella to block patients from protesters. I think of their empowerment as I help tend the landscaping with other volunteers who want to be sure the clinic is as beautiful as the approach to patient care. Right now, the lavender and dianthus are in bloom, reminding patients that we are there so they can bloom, too.  

 As an educator, as a mother, and as a social justice-minded volunteer, I am proud to support Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend because they support my community.  I hope you might consider supporting us, too.

April Lidinsky is the Director of Liberal Studies and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Indiana University South Bend.