Indiana officials appealing decision against abortion laws

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The Indiana attorney general’s office has started an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that several state laws restricting abortion are unconstitutional, including the state’s ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortions.

The office filed notice Wednesday that it will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to review the ruling released Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis.

Barker handed down 158 pages of findings of fact and conclusions of law Tuesday in Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, et al. v. Rokita, et al.1:18-cv-1904. She also issued a permanent injunction against multiple sections of the Indiana Code. Virginia-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance filed the lawsuit in 2018 as it fought the denial of a license to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.

The notice also asks Barker to put on hold an injunction she issued preventing state officials from enforcing the telemedicine ban, along with state laws requiring in-person examinations by a doctor before medication abortions and a prohibition on second-trimester abortions outside hospitals or surgery centers.

Drug-induced abortions made up 55% of those performed in Indiana last year, according to the state health department.

Barker called the state’s defense of the telemedicine ban “feeble,” but the attorney general’s office argues requiring an in-person examination by a doctor is better at identifying medical problems and physical or sexual abuse.

“It cannot be the case that, as a matter of constitutional law, a state decision to forego the newest technological conveniences has the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking abortions,” the state’s request to Barker said.

Barker did not take immediate action on the request.

Lawyers for the abortion-rights group that filed the lawsuit did not have an immediate comment.

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