Judge Bans Almost Complete Ban on Abortion in Indiana


A state judge on Thursday blocked an Indiana law banning abortion in all stages of pregnancy with limited exceptions from enforcement, a week after it went into effect.

The court order allows abortions to resume up to 20 weeks after fertilization (or 22 weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period) in Indiana.

Abortion Ban, Senate Bill 1, passed over the summer during a special session, went into effect on September 15.

Abortion providers in Indiana and a nonprofit that operates a pregnancy resource center in the state filed a lawsuit last month, trying to prevent the law from working.

The special judge in the case, Judge Kelsey Hanlon, on September 15 refused to issue a temporary restraining order pending Monday’s hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction.

On Thursday, Hanlon agreed to the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction while their lawsuit continues.

SB 1 prohibits abortion with exceptions to save a woman’s life, prevent any serious health risks to the woman and fatal fetal abnormalities, until 20 weeks after fertilization.

It also allows exceptions for some abortions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest during the first ten weeks after conception.

The law abolishes abortion clinics as state-licensed facilities and requires that all abortions be performed at a licensed hospital or outpatient surgical center predominantly owned by a licensed hospital.

SB 1 was passed by lawmakers in a special session in August, making Indiana the first state to pass a restrictive law against the measure since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.

The plaintiffs argue that the abortion ban violates the Indiana Constitution’s right to privacy and the protection of equal privileges.

They argue that the Indiana constitution provides for a right to privacy that includes a woman’s right to determine whether she will conceive to term, while state attorneys say there is no judicially enforceable right to privacy, per the judge’s order.

In her application, Hanlon wrote that “there is a reasonable possibility that decisions regarding family planning, including decisions regarding pregnancy to term”, will be included in the protection of the Constitution. However, the judge did not agree with the plaintiffs that the ban violated the Constitution’s equal privilege protections by discriminating against abortion providers.

In a joint statement, prosecutors and litigants said they were “grateful that the court granted so much relief to patients, clients and providers, but this battle is far from over.”

“We knew this ban would cause irreparable harm to Hoosiers, and in just one week, it did just that,” they said.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are abortion providers Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, the Women’s Med, Indiana obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Amy Caldwell, and All-Options, Inc. The nonprofit, which operates a pregnancy resource center that includes an abortion fund.

This story has been updated with additional reaction.

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