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Judges halt enforcement of challenged laws

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Two federal judges issued preliminary injunctions June 24 preventing parts of two new controversial laws regarding immigration and funding of Planned Parenthood of Indiana from being enforced.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted two of the three preliminary injunctions Planned Parenthood of Indiana and other plaintiffs sought regarding House Enrolled Act 1210. The law prohibits any entity that performs an abortion – with an exception for hospitals – to receive state funding for health services unrelated to abortion. That provision went into effect when signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels on May 10. The plaintiffs also challenged the informed consent information that abortion providers have to give to patients – a fetus can feel pain before 20 weeks of gestation and human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.

In the 44-page decision in Planned Parenthood of Indiana Inc., et al. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, et al., No. 1:11-CV-630, Judge Pratt addressed the plaintiffs’ arguments relating to the “freedom of choice” provision in the Medicaid statute and whether the defunding provision is preempted by federal law. She found the plaintiffs established a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of the “freedom of choice” argument and on the preemption argument as it relates to Disease Intervention Services grants PPIN receives from the state Department of Health to test for sexually transmitted diseases.

“HEA 1210 has already affected PPIN in tangible ways. HEA 1210 has and will continue to dramatically affect PPIN’s operations,” wrote Judge Pratt, citing PPIN’s estimates it will have to close seven health centers and lay off 37 positions if the law stands. “These circumstances warrant granting a preliminary injunction.”

Regarding the language abortion providers must use, Judge Pratt ruled against the plaintiffs on the argument that “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm” violates their First Amendment rights. She did rule in favor of the plaintiffs on their argument that telling clients that the fetus feels pain at 20 weeks or earlier would constitute impermissible compelled speech.

The same day Judge Pratt released the Planned Parenthood decision, Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a preliminary injunction in Ingrid Buquer, et al. v. City of Indianapolis, et al., No. 1:11-CV-708, in favor of the three immigrants residing in central Indiana who sued to stop enforcement of two provisions of Senate Enrolled Act 590. The new law amended statute to allow state and local law enforcement officers to make a warrantless arrest of a person when the officer has a removal order issued for the person by an immigration court, a detainer, or notice of action issued for the person by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or has probable cause to believe the person has been indicted for or convicted of one or more aggravated felonies. The law also creates a new infraction for any person other than a police officer who knowingly or intentionally offers or accepts a consular identification card as a valid form of ID for any purpose.

Although this law has not yet taken effect and the plaintiffs haven’t suffered a direct injury based on the law, they have established that they will be subject to arrest if and when the law takes effect. Section 19, regarding the warrantless arrest, is susceptible to only one interpretation – it authorizes the warrantless arrest of persons for matters and conduct that are not crimes. This contravenes the Fourth Amendment, so this section would be unconstitutional, wrote Judge Barker. She also found this section is preempted by federal law.

She ruled Section 18, dealing with the consular identification cards, appears to directly interfere with the rights bestowed on foreign nationals by treaty.

“Although we do not dispute that the stated purpose of ensuring the reliability of identification of individuals with the state and preventing fraud against the state is a legitimate governmental purpose, the breadth of the limitation imposed by Section 18, to wit, preventing any person (other than a police officer) from either knowingly presenting or accepting a CID as a valid form of identification for any purpose far exceeds its stated purpose and therefore is not rational,” she wrote.

The plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is not issued, Judge Barker ruled, and she said the injunction is in the public interest. The judge preliminarily enjoined the defendants from enforcing sections 18 and 19 of the new law until further order of the court.

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