County To Vote On Additional Legal Council In Lawsuit

By Megan Trent

June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 7, 2010 at 6:24 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Allen County Commissioners will cast an important vote this Friday in the legal battle over a controversial patient safety ordinance they passed in April. It was just last week that Dr. Ulrich G. Klopfer of Fort Wayne Women's Health filed a lawsuit against the Health Commissioner and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health.

As of June 1st, out-of-town physicians who perform surgical procedures but do not have admitting privileges at local hospitals must leave emergency contact information with health providers in case patients encounter complications.

Klopfer and other opponents of the ordinance say the law is a violation of privacy rights and makes certain procedures such as abortions more of a challenge for patients and doctors. Opponents also say state regulations already cover areas such as this.

Supporters say it's not about abortion or any one specific type of procedure. They say it's about increasing the quality of care patients experiencing complications receive by being able to directly contact the doctor who performed the procedure.

"At their legislative session, the Allen County Commissioners will consider whether to employ the Alliance Defense Fund as an additional council to the lawsuit that's been filed regarding the patient safety ordinance," said Mike Green, spokesman for the Allen County Commissioners Office.

At the Commissioner's discussion session this morning County Attorney Bill Fishering recommended bringing on board the Alliance Defense Fund, a christian defense league based out of Arizona.

"The county's attorney office would continue to be the primary defense council, but would work along with the alliance defense fund in determining legal strategy, filing briefs, etc." Green said.

The group is offering to help at no cost to the county because abortions have been at the heart of this controversy, and the group focuses on cases that affect family and the sanctity of life.

"The Alliance Defense Fund has offered their services to the county for free, so in defending this lawsuit, it will not cost county taxpayers any money," said Green.

In addition to The Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union has also become involved on Dr. Klopfer's behalf in the lawsuit.

Indiana's NewsCenter will let you know more about the Commissioners' decision regarding legal council on Friday, and we will continue to update you on this lawsuit as further developments become available.

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