IU challenges part of new abortion restrictions law

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The Indiana University board of trustees and three of the school's research officials filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block part of the state's new abortion law that bars them from acquiring fetal tissue for scientific purposes.

Their complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis seeks to have that section of the law declared unconstitutional and an injunction barring the Marion County prosecutor from enforcing it. The research is conducted at the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute in Indianapolis.

Current Indiana law allows the purchase or sale of a fetus for adult or fetal stem cell research, but the new law passed this year by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Mike Pence makes it a felony to buy, sell or transfer the tissue, organs or any other part of an aborted fetus, the lawsuit said.

The IU lawsuit claims the new law, due to take effect July 1, is unconstitutionally vague, impedes interstate commerce and violates plaintiff Debomoy Lahiri's First Amendment right to academic freedom.

Lahiri, a professor of psychiatry and an investigator for the Stark Institute, is conducting research into Alzheimer's disease on cell cultures derived from fetal tissue acquired from the Birth Defects Research Laboratory at the University of Washington, the lawsuit said. The laboratory acquires the fetal tissue from both elective abortions and miscarriages, the lawsuit said.

Lahiri's research is funded by the National Institutes for Health, which requires him to retain research samples and he must share them on request from the NIH or other institutions, the lawsuit said.

The Stark Institute also has RNA, DNA, proteins and other biological material that may have come from fetal tissue, the lawsuit said.

The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Bruce Lamb, the executive director of the Stark Institute, and Fred Cate, IU's vice president for research.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office, which represents prosecutors, is reviewing IU's lawsuit, spokeswoman Molly Gillaspie said.

A federal judge invited the university to file its own lawsuit over the law Tuesday when she denied its bid to join an existing lawsuit against the law brought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. The Planned Parenthood lawsuit contends the new law, which also mandates that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated, is unconstitutional and violates privacy rights.

The new law also would ban abortions sought because of genetic abnormalities. North Dakota is the only other state with such a ban.


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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: Here are the two research papers: 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.