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Judge sets hearing in Indiana abortion challenge

People outside the Indiana Statehouse holding signs with messages denouncing abortion restrictions.
An Indiana judge is expected to hear a challenge next week to the state's new abortion ban, four days after it's set to go into effect. Pictured, protestors gathered at the Indiana Statehouse in July, ahead of lawmakers considering the bill.

An Indiana judge is expected to hear arguments next week in the first of two challenges to the state’s near-total abortion ban. 

Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon has scheduled a Sept. 19 hearing on a preliminary injunction to block the law. That’s four days after the law is set to go into effect. 

The law makes it a felony to provide abortions in most cases, with exceptions only to save the life of the pregnant patient, if there are fatal fetal anomalies, or in cases of rape or incest up to 10 weeks. It also prohibits abortions outside hospital settings or outpatient centers owned by hospitals.

Indiana lawmakers passed the measure during a special legislative session this summer, becoming the first state to pass a new ban following the Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Last month, the ACLU of Indiana, Planned Parenthood and others filed a challenge in state court, arguing the law violates the right to privacy and equal privileges protections under the state constitution. 

Attorneys also say the law is “unworkable, because physicians cannot determine when in a pregnancy the exception permits abortions.”

The plaintiffs filed a motion for temporary restraining order Monday, asking the judge to block the law from being enforced until she has a chance to hear and rule on the preliminary injunction.

Last week, the ACLU filed a separate class-action lawsuit on behalf of Indiana Jews for Choice and others, arguing the law violates the state’s 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act

As of Monday, online court records did not yet show a hearing date or ruling in that case. 

This story has been updated to include additional information.

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

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