Federal judge strikes down Indiana’s latest abortion law

Staff Report
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INDIANAPOLIS (Statehouse File) — A federal judge Thursday issued an injunction barring Indiana from enforcing a law requiring doctors to report abortion complications to the state beginning July 1.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that the Indiana law, enacted in the 2018 legislative session, was too vague.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky sued in May over Senate Enrolled Act 340, which requires health care providers to annually report 26 abortion complications to the Indiana State Department of Health.

“Absent a preliminary injunction, PPINK and its physicians will, beginning July 1, 2018, be subject to licensing penalties, and eventually criminal penalties, if they violate the challenged statute,” Young wrote in his 19-page opinion.

“If PPINK and its physicians interpret the statute incorrectly and report less than everything, they risk civil and criminal sanctions. This violates PPINK’s due process rights. The violation of constitutional rights constitutes irreparable harm.”

Some of the complications doctors were required to report included infection, blood clots, uterine and cervical complications, renal failure and death.

The legislation also added a number of new requirements for abortion clinics to comply with, including having women who have been prescribed an abortion-inducing drug sign a form that says they have been informed of the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said the restrictions would have placed doctors and providers at risk of sanctions. The ACLU sued on behalf of the local Planned Parenthood chapter.

“Defining abortion complications in such broad and uncertain terms makes it next-to-impossible for anyone to know what is or is not an abortion complication,” Falk said.

“The Indiana General Assembly routinely attempts to chip away at Hoosiers ability to access safe and legal abortions in Indiana under the guise of patient safety and SEA 340 is no different,” said Christie Gillespie, president and CEO of PPINK. “Hoosiers deserve meaningful laws that govern their health care and this sham of a law doesn’t qualify.”

This is the latest setback for Indiana lawmakers as they attempt to impose restrictions on abortions.

In April, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down key features of an Indiana law that would have banned abortions based on the fetus’ genetic abnormality, gender or race.

In a 2-1 decision, the appellate panel found the nondiscrimination provisions in the law violated precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

The state’s Legislative Services Agency, in its report on SEA 340, noted that past efforts to enact abortion restrictions have been successfully challenged by ACLU of Indiana, resulting in the state paying about $290,000 in legal fees to the plaintiffs and their lawyers.

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