Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has been riding a wave of favorable publicity of late, is now facing questions about a 2018 decision he made that barred a pro-life group from opening a location next to a proposed abortion clinic.
“Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Abortion Dishonesty Is Astonishing,” the website Newsmax proclaimed Monday in the headline for a commentary piece about the incident from Bill Donahue, president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
In April 2018, according to the South Bend Tribune, Buttigieg rejected a rezoning request that had already passed Sound Bend’s Common Council that have would let the Women’s Care Center, which is pro-life, occupy a vacant structure next door to where the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance wanted to open its abortion clinic.
As a presidential contender, Buttigieg has made his support for abortion clear.
“You’re not free if your reproductive choices are being dictated by male politicians in Washington,” he said told an audience in Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday, The Daily Wire reported.
He added to that in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“(W)hen a woman is facing this decision in her life, I think in terms of somebody besides her who can most be useful in that, the answer to that would be a doctor. Not a male government official imposing his interpretation of his religion,” Buttigieg said.
But last year, when making the ruling against the pro-life center, he insisted the issue of abortion was not part of his decision, the South Bend Tribune reported at the time.
“Issues on the legality or morality of abortion are dramatically beyond my pay grade as a mayor,” he said.
Instead, he said he was acting to preserve peace in the neighborhood.
“I don’t think it would be responsible to situate two groups, literally right next to each other, in a neighborhood, that have diametrically opposed views on the most divisive social issue of our time,” he said then.
Buttigieg also claimed safety was a real concern.
“I saw data that there was about triple the rate of violence or harassment issues when a clinic is located next to a crisis pregnancy center,” Buttigieg said. “It’s about 21 percent, versus about 7 percent when there’s not one right next to them. That was obviously a concern that got my attention.”
However, Donahue’s commentary piece on Newsmax called that reasoning dishonest. There is virtually no objective evidence that a pro-life crisis pregnancy center leads to violence at nearby abortion clinics, Donohue wrote.
“If there were problems of true harassment or violence accompanying the location of a CPC near an abortion clinic, such stories should not be hard to find, especially from abortion-friendly sources,” he wrote.
Buttigieg offered another view of his decision in a recent interview with CNN.
“The problem for me was not that this (pro-life) organization wanted to open a seventh location in this neighborhood. It was that I was being asked to sign off on changing the zoning law over the objection of the would-be next-door neighbor — and over the objection of the (Common) Council members for that district — without seeing a compelling reason about why it absolutely had to be there.
“And so the council in a narrow and very bitterly divided vote, I think 5-4, voted it through, but I couldn’t sign it. I just didn’t think it was right,” he said.
The “next-door neighbor” to which Buttigieg referred was the abortion clinic.
Others objected to the decision.
“How unfortunate that the Women’s Care Center has been denied in its own hometown the opportunity to expand their compassionate services to a location where it could best reach the women who could benefit most,” Roman Catholic Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Dioceses said in a statement at the time, according to the Tribune.
Council President Oliver Davis said that he thought Buttigieg’s actions sent a chilling message.
“We live in a diverse community,” Davis said.
“I’m concerned … now that a group can come before a zoning board and say, ‘We don’t like that group… so we don’t want them next to us.’”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.