An in-court battle over yet another Indiana abortion law will take place Friday when the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana will urge a district court judge to enter an injunction against portions of a law set to take effect in less than a month.
Oral arguments in Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc. v. Commissioner, Indiana State Dept. of Health, et al., 1:18-cv-1219, begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time in the Indiana Southern District Court in Evansville. The ACLU, arguing on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, filed the case in April to challenge Senate Enrolled Act 340, which is scheduled to take effect July 1.
SEA 340 requires abortion providers such as PPINK to report “all abortion complications” and creates new inspection requirements for abortion clinics that are not imposed on other medical facilities. The complaint alleges the reporting requirements are unconstitutionally vague, while the stricter inspection requirements violate the Equal Protection Clause.
“Once again, Indiana politicians are barging into the exam room with irrational demands and intrusive requirements,” ACLU of Indiana executive director Jane Henegar said in April. “Indiana politicians are in a race to be the most extreme in the nation as they find new and reprehensible ways to block women from getting abortions and shame and punish those who do so.”
Shortly after the complaint was filed, prosecutors in Marion, Lake and Monroe counties — who were named as defendants in their official capacities — announced they would not defend the state against the lawsuit. The prosecutors criticized state lawmakers for engaging in “annual act(s) of legislative futility to pass abortion-related bills” that have resulted in almost yearly legal challenges brought by the ACLU. Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry estimated Indiana has paid $300,000 in legal fees to the ACLU for lawsuits challenging abortion legislation.
Because PPINK operates clinics in Marion, Monroe and Lake counties, Curry, Monroe County prosecutor Chris Gaal and Lake County prosecutor Bernard Carter would be responsible for enforcing the criminal aspects of SEA 340, which can include possible jail time for noncompliance. They said doing so would divert resources from other prosecutorial needs, so they “directed” Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office to concede the merits of the case on their behalf.
But Hill hit back at the prosecutors just one day after their announcement, saying they have no authority to decide how the state will defend itself against the ACLU’s complaint.
“While prosecutors Curry, Gaul and Carter share the opinion that this case should not be defended, they also share no authority to make that call,” Hill said in May. “Mr. Curry’s ‘directive’ to me to concede the constitutionality of an Indiana statute has zero force or effect.”
Hill is a Republican, while all three prosecutors are Democrats.
During Friday’s arguments, the ACLU will ask Judge Richard Young to enter a preliminary injunction against the challenged portions of HEA 340. Several Indiana abortion-related laws have been struck down in recent years, including House Enrolled Act 1337 in April.
Arguments will be held at the Winfield K. Denton Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse in Evansville.