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Providers file state lawsuit challenging Indiana abortion ban

People standing outside the Indiana Statehouse July 25, 2022, holding signs in protest of the abortion bill, or in favor of restrictions.
An Indiana judge has granted a preliminary injunction blocking the state's near-total abortion ban.

ACLU of Indiana, Planned Parenthood and several providers have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging Indiana’s near-total abortion ban, which is set to take effect Sept. 15.

Senate Bill 1, which was passed during the recent special legislative session, prohibits abortion in almost all cases. It only provides exceptions to save the life of the pregnant patient, if fatal fetal anomalies exist or in cases of rape or incest up to 10 weeks.

Prior to the law going into effect, abortions are allowed up to 22 weeks in Indiana.

The lawsuit lists members of Indiana’s medical licensing board and prosecutors in Hendricks, Lake, Marion, Monroe, Joseph, Tippecanoe and Warrick counties as defendants. Plaintiffs argue the new legislation violates the state constitution’s right to privacy and equal privileges protections.

They’re asking the court for an injunction to block the law.

“Unless this ban is blocked, patients seeking abortion will be unable to access timely and potentially life-saving care in their own communities,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

“The abortion ban that the legislature rushed through during a special session — nearly immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — is both dangerous and incredibly cruel. We demand more for patients and providers, and we will continue fighting for everyone’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures.”

Indiana’s new law makes it a level 5 felony and carries a fine of up to $10,000 and six years in prison for anyone providing an abortion outside of the narrow exceptions.

Plaintiffs argue the legislation is “unworkable, because physicians cannot determine when in a pregnancy the exception permits abortions.”

The law also requires abortions to take place only in hospital settings or outpatient centers owned by hospitals.

Earlier this month, Indiana became the first state to enact a new abortion ban following the United States Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, which removed federal protections on abortions and gave states the right to decide.

Multiple other states, including Kentucky, had trigger laws on the books ready to go into effect if Roe was overturned. 

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood previously challenged Kentucky’s law in state court. That case is ongoing, but the state court of appeals recently ruled the new law can be enforced during the case, a decision the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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