Planned Parenthood challenging new Indiana abortion parental consent law

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Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has filed a lawsuit challenging portions of Senate Enrolled Act 404, which in part requires unemancipated minors to obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian before being allowed to have an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Indianapolis. PPINK and the ACLU maintain portions of the new law — which goes into effect July 1 — violate equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution as well as the First Amendment.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed SEA 404 into law last month, which says for a minor under the age of 18 to obtain an abortion, her parent, legal guardian or custodian must accompany her and provide written consent and government-issued proof of identification. When he signed the legislation into law, Holcomb said he saw it as a "parental rights issue."

If the unemancipated minor objects to having obtain consent, she can petition the juvenile court for a waiver of parental consent and notification. The new law allows the juvenile court to order the minor’s attorney to serve the parent or legal guardian notice by certified mail or personal notice.

The court could waive the parental notification requirement if it finds having the abortion without parental notification is in the minor’s best interests. A minor denied wavier can appeal.  

The lawsuit doesn’t challenge SEA 404 as a whole, only Section 4, the parental consent aspect and process a physician must follow to certify the relationship between the minor and parent, and Section 4.2(a), regarding preventing someone from assisting an unemancipated pregnant minor in obtaining an abortion without the consent required under Section 4.

PPINK maintains this section violates the First Amendment as it prohibits the organization from advising its minor patients and people seeking abortion services that they can travel to other states where consent may not be required to obtain abortions.

It is seeking a preliminary injunction — later to be made permanent — preventing these two sections from taking effect.

“If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will have a chilling effect on teenagers already dealing with a difficult situation,” said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of PPINK. “We encourage teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their family members, but unfortunately not every teenager is in an environment where that is safe. This law seeks to stifle open and fully informed conversation between our staff and our patients. Patients should know all options regarding their pregnancies. It is blatantly unconstitutional and is entirely without compassion for vulnerable Hoosiers.”

"For over four decades, courts have confirmed that this constitutional right extends to unemancipated minors who have been deemed, by a judge, to be sufficiently mature to make a decision to obtain an abortion without parental consent, Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, said in a statement. "SEA 404 imposes new burdens on a young woman’s access to abortion and on her health care providers, in violation of often reaffirmed constitutional rights.”

The Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said his staff is reviewing the lawsuit. "We look forward to defending the rights of parents and the welfare of children that are under attack by this lawsuit," he said.


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