US District Court judge rules against several Indiana abortion laws

The judge’s ruling also upheld other state abortion limits that were challenged in a broad lawsuit filed by Virginia-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance in 2018 as it fought the denial of a license to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.

Posted: Aug 11, 2021 10:23 AM
Updated: Aug 12, 2021 9:15 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that several of Indiana’s laws restricting abortion are unconstitutional, including the state’s ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortions.

The judge’s ruling also upheld other state abortion limits that were challenged in a broad lawsuit filed by Virginia-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance in 2018 as it fought the denial of a license to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a permanent injunction against the telemedicine ban, along with state laws requiring in-person examinations by a doctor before medication abortions and the prohibition on second-trimester abortions outside hospitals or surgery centers.

Barker also ruled against state laws requiring that women seeking abortions be told human life begins when the egg is fertilized and that a fetus might feel pain at or before 20 weeks.

The state attorney general, whose office has been defending those laws in court, said Barker’s ruling contradicted higher court decisions and pointed toward a possible appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals,

“We will continue to fight to defend Indiana’s commonsense abortion laws and to build a culture of life in Indiana,” Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement.

The anti-abortion group Indiana Right to Life denounced the decision as “judicial activism at its absolute worst.”

“This is a horrific ruling that will directly lead to a massive expansion of chemical and late term abortions in Indiana,” organization President Mike Fichter said in a statement. “The sweeping blockage of these common sense laws jeopardizes the health and safety of women, leaves women in the dark on issues of fetal pain and the development of human life.”

Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, said “providing abortion care in Indiana has not been easy” and that the group was “grateful to the courts for upholding the right to evidence-based abortion care by overturning these unjust and burdensome regulations.”

Barker, who was nominated as a federal judge in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, wrote that the state didn’t have the constitutional authority to restrict the use of virtual telemedicine services to women seeking medication abortions without providing evidence that it benefitted women’s health.

“The State’s attempt to explain its basis for excluding the far-reaching benefits of telemedicine from this category of patients is feeble at best, especially given the widespread use of telemedicine throughout Indiana as well as the overall safety of medication abortions,” Barker wrote.

Drug-induced abortions for the first time made up a majority of abortion procedures in Indiana during 2020, according to a state health department report.

Medication abortions represented 55% of Indiana’s total of 7,756 abortions last year, about double the state’s rate from 2016.

Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature passed a law this year aimed at requiring doctors to tell women undergoing such abortions about a disputed “abortion reversal” treatment for potentially stopping the process.

That law, however, was blocked by a different federal judge just before it was set to take effect July 1.

Barker ruled against state law provisions dating to 2011 that require doctors to tell women seeking abortions that human life begins when the egg is fertilized and that a fetus might feel pain at or before 20 weeks.

Barker found the requirement about when life begins was unconstitutional and wrote that “this mandatory disclosure does not communicate truthful and non-misleading information.”

The judge did uphold state laws requiring an ultrasound be performed on the woman 18 hours before an abortion procedure, allowing abortion counseling by only physicians and advance practice clinicians and criminal penalties for violating state abortion restrictions.

Indiana’s Legislature has adopted numerous abortion restrictions over the past decade, with several later blocked by court challenges.

Among those challenges, Barker ruled in 2019 against the state’s ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure that the legislation called “dismemberment abortion.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2019 also rejected Indiana’s appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the state’s ban on abortion based on gender, race or disability.

However, it upheld a portion of the 2016 law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1499485

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1626291662
Cuyahoga1447662412
Hamilton1044761409
Montgomery731681240
Summit610421094
Lucas55643904
Butler51076707
Stark459431053
Lorain35141568
Warren32476369
Mahoning30315672
Clermont27930321
Lake26669434
Delaware23960162
Licking23547283
Trumbull22550552
Fairfield22179241
Greene22098311
Medina21763305
Clark19630349
Richland18342280
Portage17696247
Wood17244220
Allen15730269
Miami15355296
Muskingum14551174
Columbiana13756263
Wayne13585263
Tuscarawas12479298
Marion11797175
Scioto11388154
Pickaway11286141
Erie10676180
Ross10462196
Lawrence9663137
Hancock9546149
Ashtabula9479197
Belmont9133197
Geauga8829157
Jefferson8481191
Huron8229139
Union810756
Washington8031137
Sandusky7724145
Athens769572
Knox7606138
Darke7553151
Seneca7208144
Ashland6817125
Auglaize667896
Shelby6410111
Brown628582
Crawford6184130
Defiance6087102
Mercer608293
Fulton592996
Highland590099
Madison587576
Clinton576190
Logan574692
Guernsey572467
Preble5660121
Putnam5250108
Williams520184
Perry512561
Champaign505071
Jackson498770
Ottawa479086
Coshocton471582
Morrow451256
Pike430762
Fayette422160
Adams411587
Gallia411265
Hardin411076
Van Wert364078
Henry357871
Holmes3567122
Hocking352578
Wyandot317961
Carroll297059
Paulding275945
Meigs259249
Monroe212953
Noble196546
Morgan190832
Harrison178242
Vinton162624
Unassigned05
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The wonderful weather continues across the region Tuesday with our next chance of rain midweek.
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