AG Hill appeals ruling striking ‘abortion complications’ reporting statute

A district court ruling that struck down a Hoosier abortion law requiring the reporting of “abortion complications” has been appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill filed the appeal Tuesday in Planned Parenthood of Indiana Kentucky, Inc. v. Marion County Prosecutor, et al., 20-2407.

The suit relates to 2018’s Senate Enrolled Act 340, which required abortion providers to report “complications” to the Indiana Department of Health, which would then file an aggregate report with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The law defined abortion complications as “any adverse physical or psychological condition arising from the induction or performance of an abortion.”

Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an injunction against that portion of SEA 340 in 2018, then in July granted summary judgment to Planned Parenthood on a vagueness challenge. Specifically, Young held that the phrase “arising from” was unconstitutionally vague.

In appealing that decision, Hill argued in an appellant brief that “concerns regarding the causal relationship between an enumerated medical condition and an abortion procedure are remedied by precedents holding that whether a medical outcome ‘arises from’ a particular case must be determined by reasonable medical judgment.

“Notably,” Hill wrote, “state and federal statutes — even criminal statutes, and even statues governing abortion procedures — commonly use the words ‘arising from’ to denote a causal relationship that is the condition of some obligation; yet, the district court has cited no case holding that ‘arising from’ is unconstitutionally vague in any other context.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Hill accused Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky — represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana — of “continuing its nonstop determination to seize on any means by which it might weaken Indiana’s abortion regulations.”

“While Planned Parenthood continues working to protect the financial profits of the abortion industry, we will continue working to protect women’s health and the lives of unborn children.”

In addition to the legal fight, the lawsuit against the reporting statute sparked a feud between Hill, a Republican, and three Democratic prosecutors named as defendants. Former Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, former Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal and Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter publicly asked Hill to concede the merits of the litigation — a request Hill emphatically denied.

Though the reporting statute was struck down, Young upheld a second provision of SEA 340 requiring annual inspection of abortion clinics. That requirement is greater than the inspection requirements imposed on hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, but the judge still rejected PPINK’s equal protection argument, writing that the state “has offered at least a plausible explanation for the decision to subject abortion clinics to stricter inspection requirements.”

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