The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, August 10, 2021 5:53 pm

Judge strikes down some Indiana abortion regulations

All or part of 6 statutes found unconstitutional; ultrasound, delay, parental-consent rules upheld

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A federal judge on Tuesday struck down an array of Indiana abortion regulations in a move that could expand access to abortions around the state.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker found all or parts of six statutes unconstitutional, while upholding several others.

The Whole Woman's Health Alliance case, which was filed in 2018, wages "a global assault on the constitutionality of Indiana's statutory and regulatory restrictions on abortions," the ruling said.

It challenged 25 separate sections of Indiana's framework to regulate abortion, claiming the provisions violate the Substantive Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Freedom of Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

"This is a horrific ruling that will directly lead to a massive expansion of chemical and late term abortions in Indiana," Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter said in a statement. "The sweeping blockage of these common sense laws jeopardizes the health and safety of women, leaves women in the dark on issues of fetal pain and the development of human life, and places communities like Fort Wayne and Evansville clearly in the crosshairs for abortion business expansion. This is judicial activism at its absolute worst."

The laws that are now permanently blocked -- unless overturned on appeal -- are:

  • The physician-only law that limits the provision of first trimester medication abortion care to doctors only.
  • The requirement that all second-trimester abortions occur in a hospital.
  • The in-person counseling requirement for abortions.
  • The telemedicine ban, which said abortion services couldn't be provided online.
  • The in-person examination requirement for medication abortions.
  • Some facility requirements.

The court also found the mandatory disclosures on when a fetus can feel pain, the beginning of life and the mental health risks of abortion "violate the truthful and non-misleading standard."

The provisions related to medication abortions could mean Hoosier women won't have to make multiple visits to a dwindling number of abortion clinics.

The 2020 Terminated Pregnancy Report showed there were 4,252 pill-induced abortions last year as non-surgical abortions grew to 54.8% of the total procedures, up from 44% in 2019. In all, 7,756 abortions occurred in 2020 -- an increase of 1.6%.

Among the laws that were upheld were an ultrasound requirement; an 18-hour delay requirement; and the parental consent law.

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