Indiana judge blocks anti-abortion law passed under Mike Pence


A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against an Indiana law that would have prohibited abortions sought specifically because the fetus had been potentially diagnosed with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The law also would have required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated and that abortion providers notify patients that seeking an abortion because the fetus may be disabled was against the law in the state.

The restrictions were signed into law in March 2016 by Vice President Mike Pence, who was then the governor of Indiana, but Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, sued and obtained a preliminary injunction.

Last year, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt suspended the law, saying it was likely unconstitutional and would violate a woman’s right to choose an abortion before the fetus is viable and the right to make that decision privately. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently affirmed those rights.

On Friday, Pratt issued a permanent injunction against the law, saying the three provisions “directly contravene well-established law.”

The state has argued it has an interest in protecting fetuses from discrimination based on potential disabilities, and while Pratt said she acknowledged the state’s interest, it was outweighed by the rights of those seeking an abortion.

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU applauded Pratt’s decision but said the assault on reproductive rights is not over.

“This is just one of… a number of lawsuits that we have filed with Planned Parenthood to attempt to stop the state of Indiana from burdening women’s fundamental right of privacy and fundamental right of obtaining an abortion,” Ken Falk of the ACLU said during a press conference Friday. “Despite our success… the state has proceeded unimpeded to try and pass ever more onerous requirements and burdens.”

Falk said that although he is an optimistic person, he is not optimistic that Friday’s ruling will end the continued attempts by the state of Indiana and others to burden those seeking abortions.

“We will continue to stand up to any and all who attempt to interfere with a patient’s ability to access essential services and interfere with their ability to make their medical choices,” Christie Gillespie, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky told reporters, adding that Planned Parenthood appreciates the judge’s ruling.

The Indiana ruling comes as a fight to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act continues to rage in Congress. The repeal bill spearheaded by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) would, if signed into law, bar the use of ACA tax credits to pay for health care plans that cover abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life as soon as next year, as health care analyst Charles Gaba has noted.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also recently reaffirmed it would back anti-choice candidates, drawing the ire of many reproductive rights activists.

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