Indiana attorney general files appeal to strike down injunction on the state’s abortion ban
Lawyers representing the state are hoping to advance the issue straight to the Indiana Supreme Court.
“Only this court can provide the final word on this hotly contested, high-profile, pure question of law that is of grave importance to the General Assembly and the citizens of Indiana,” they said in the court filing.
Representatives from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office added that “unborn lives will almost certainly be lost” if the injunction continues to stand.
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“The urgency of this matter cannot be overstated,” the state’s lawyers said in court documents. “While the trial court’s preliminary injunction remains in effect, state laws essential for protecting unborn children cannot be enforced. The lives of the unborn will be terminated.”
An Owen County judge issued the preliminary injunction Thursday in a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Indiana’s near-total abortion ban. The court order halted the state’s new abortion law one week after it took effect.
Judge Kelsey Blake Hanlon, a Republican, said in her ruling that the ban “materially burdens the bodily autonomy of Indiana’s women and girls by significantly and arbitrarily limiting their access to care.”
Under the injunction, the state’s previous abortion law will stand — allowing abortion up to 20 weeks. It also means abortion clinics can again perform the procedure. Planned Parenthood told the Indiana Capital Chronicle on Thursday that abortion care had already resumed.
The pause on the ban only applies to Marion, Monroe, Hendricks, Lake, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe and Warrick Counties. Local prosecutors in those counties are defendants in the ACLU of Indiana lawsuit.
Hanlon’s ruling prohibits them — or the state Medical Licensing Board — from enforcing the new law. In the seven counties, physicians can continue to offer abortions, as previously allowed in the state, prior to Sept. 15.
A majority of Indiana abortions have historically been performed in those counties, according to state health department records.
If Hanlon’s ruling is suspended, the new abortion ban would take effect again.
The court challenge up for debate was filed in Monroe County Circuit Court last month by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana on behalf of health care providers and a pregnancy resource center.
They argue that the abortion ban blocks patients from exercising a “fundamental right to privacy,” which the Indiana Constitution protects as an individual liberty. The Supreme Court of the United States in June ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee abortion rights.
The Indiana ban outlaws most abortions except in the case of a fatal fetal anomaly or serious health risk to the mother. One part of the law says these exceptions are up to 20 weeks but another part says they can be used anytime. Rape survivors can get an abortion up to 10 weeks post-fertilization. It also strips abortion clinics of their state medical licenses, and provides that only hospitals and hospital-owned ambulatory surgical centers can provide abortions.
No court dates have been scheduled yet for the appeal.
On the horizon, a second lawsuit, also led by the ACLU of Indiana, seeks to strike down the ban on the basis that it violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. An initial hearing in the case has been set for Oct. 14.