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Federal judge blocks another Indiana abortion regulation

April 3, 2017

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against an Indiana law requiring women to have ultrasounds at least 18 hours before having an abortion, holding that the regulation places an undue burden on low-income women.

In a decision handed down late Friday, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana blocked the requirement in House Enrolled Act 1337, which went into effect last July and has already faced multiple legal challenges from Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the ACLU of Indiana.

Prior to HEA 1337, women were required to have an ultrasound before having an abortion, but the ultrasound could be done on the same day as the procedure. The 18-hour mandate only applied to “informed-consent appointments,” during which abortion providers were required to provide women with information regarding pregnancy and abortion.

The informed consent appointments could be completed at any of Planned Parenthood’s 17 Indiana health centers. However, only six of Planned Parenthood’s centers can provide ultrasounds, so the informed consent appointments would likewise only be available at six locations if the appointments and ultrasounds had to be completed within the same time frame, Pratt wrote.

“The new ultrasound law creates significant financial and other burdens on PPINK and its patients, particularly on low-income women in Indiana who face lengthy travel to one of PPINK’s now only six health centers that can offer an informed-consent appointment,” Pratt wrote in her 53-page order. “These burdens are clearly undue when weighed against the almost complete lack of evidence that the law furthers the State’s asserted justifications of promoting fetal life and women’s mental health outcomes.”

The ACLU of Indiana represented Planned Parenthood in the district court case. The two organizations will hold a joint news conference at noon Monday at the ACLU’s downtown Indianapolis office to discuss Pratt’s decision. Representatives from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, which represented the state, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc. v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, in his official capacity, Marion County Prosecutor, lake County Prosecutor, Monroe County Prosecutor, and Tippecanoe County Prosecutor, 1:16-cv-01807.

This story will be updated.
 

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