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Planned Parenthood asks judge to toss Indiana law barring abortions based on disability

by | Oct 27, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt

When last we wrote about U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, an Obama appointment, she had just heard a challenge to Indiana’s new law that bars aborting a child solely because of a prenatal diagnosis of disability or race. She quickly gave plaintiffs what they wanted—a temporary injunction—and now, according to The Indiana Lawyer, PPFA wants a summary judgement against HE 1337.

In addition, the ACLU, on behalf of PPFA, is challenging an Indiana law that requires that a woman have an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion. The ACLU is arguing (what else?) that is represents an “unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.” Judge Pratt has scheduled a hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction on the new ultrasound requirement for November 9.

Pro-life Gov. Mike Pence signed HE 1337 into law last March, making Indiana the second state to forbid abortions based on disability. (North Dakota is the other.) At the oral arguments in June, Judge Pratt asked Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher during the hour-long hearing, “How can it be described as anything but a prohibition on the right to an abortion?”

According to the Indianapolis Star

The state defended the law, framing it as prohibiting discrimination based on disability. Women can still seek first-trimester abortions when they don’t want to have a child, said Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher. The new abortion restrictions, he argued, would instead prevent women from saying, “I want to have a baby. I just don’t want to have this baby.”

Fisher acknowledged that the law might not be used often, since women likely have many reasons for seeking an abortion. They would violate the law only if the fetal disability diagnosis was the only reason behind their decision.

But ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk countered, “What we’re talking about is the right to privacy, the right a woman has to make this very personal decision.” Falk added, “You cannot discriminate against a fetus,” according to Indianapolis Star reporter Stephanie Wang.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana also objected to a provision that requires abortion providers to bury or cremate the baby’s remains.

Wang wrote that Falk told Judge Pratt, “That would treat aborted fetuses like a deceased person instead of a surgical byproduct.”

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The Chicago Tribune added

Falk said Planned Parenthood currently disposes of aborted fetuses by incineration. He said aborted fetuses are not considered human beings and they should be destroyed in the same manner by which an amputated arm or other tissue removed through surgery is destroyed.

According to Indiana Right to Life, HEA 1337

“puts into law Hoosiers’ longstanding values that babies shouldn’t be aborted because of disability, gender or race. In addition, it provides perinatal hospice information to parents who receive a negative prenatal diagnosis. It imposes respectful disposal methods of aborted fetal remains so that baby body parts aren’t comingled with gall bladders and treated as medical waste. It prohibits the transportation of an aborted baby into or out of Indiana except for the purpose of final disposition. It also increases informed consent for women by prohibiting group counseling before an abortion so that the woman has an opportunity to discuss the upcoming abortion procedure in private.”

Categories: Judicial Legislation