Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has temporarily blocked Indiana’s latest abortion restriction from going into effect. House Bill 1337, signed by Governor Mike Pence in March, bans women from seeking abortions based on race, gender or fetal anomaly; it also mandates that women be required to bury or cremate the fetus post-termination. The law also required that abortion doctors have admitting privileges in order to practice, a restriction that the Supreme Court recently struck down in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. Judge Pratt enjoined the entirety of the bill.
The law, set to go into effect July 1, was challenged by Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union. The groups filed suit against the state in March, arguing that the restrictive law infringed on the right to privacy. At the time of filing, Planned Parenthood said that the law imposes “unconstitutional restrictions on women seeking abortions and their health care providers.” In her decision today, Judge Pratt said that the state does not have the authority to limit a woman’s decision to terminate a pregnancy.
HB 1337 is a particularly invasive law, outlawing abortion for reasons including “mental or intellectual disability,” “physical disability,” disfigurement, Down Syndrome, or a “physical or mental disease.” The law has an exemption clause for lethal fetal anomalies, but even that is written in cruelly narrow terms. According to HB 1337, women seeking an abortion for “lethal fetal anomaly” must certify on a state form that the anomaly would be fatal before the third month of a child’s life. After certifying, the law stipulates that she must be given information about perinatal hospice care.
In a statement, Pence, who has never seen an abortion restriction bill that he wasn’t eager to sign, said:
[I] will continue to stand for the sanctity of human life in all stages, for the compassionate and safe treatment of women faced with an enormously difficult decision, and for the rights of citizens to determine appropriate medical safety standards and procedures through their elected representatives.
Pence’s statement indicates that the state is likely to appeal today’s decision.
Image via AP.