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District Court Judge rules parts of Indiana’s “2016 Dignity for the Unborn Law” void for vagueness

by | Dec 27, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson

The Indiana Lawyer is reporting that last Friday Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana “granted partial summary judgment to the trustees of Indiana University and its research faculty” in a challenge to part of an Indiana abortion law– the 2016 Dignity for the Unborn Law/ HEA 1337’s –that prohibited the sale, transfer, receipt and acquiring of aborted fetal tissue.

According to reporter Olivia Covington, Judge Magnus-Stinson found “two portions of HEA 1337 were void for vagueness.”

Back in 2016, Indiana Right to Life explained the challenge:

Indiana University was suing the state of Indiana in order to continue experiments using parts from aborted babies, including the brains of aborted babies purchased for $200 each. Indiana Right to Life has confirmed Indiana University purchased brains from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington.

Indiana University is suing over a portion of the 2016 Dignity for the Unborn law, which prohibits the transfer and sale of aborted baby parts. Indiana University claims in its lawsuit that the law will jeopardize research.

Indiana Right to Life opposes using aborted baby body parts for research, citing this practice as unethical and unnecessary. Scientists are working on cures for diseases with ethical avenues like adults stem cells and umbilical cord blood.

However, according to Covington, the state prevailed on two other challenges: equal protection and academic freedom.

Looking to the 14th Amendment equal protection issue, Magnus-Stinson said the defendants’ proffered interest in ensuring human tissue research is ethical is a legitimate governmental interest, and the statute is rationally related to that purpose.

“Of course, the Court must agree with IU that if this were indeed the legislature’s goal, this statute was neither the most direct nor the least restrictive means to accomplish it: it does not mention research at all, instead only regulating the movement of the fetal tissue encompassed by the statute,” she wrote. “But the rational basis inquiry does not require that a statute be the wisest, fairest, most logical or least restrictive means to any end.”

With respect to IU’s claim that the statute infringed upon their First Amendment academic freedom rights, Magnus-Stinson ruled “the school did not prove ‘the First Amendment prevents states from enacting statutes prohibiting conduct in which the University would like to engage, and then teach about.’”

According to Indiana University’s May 2016 complaint, the impact of HEA 13337 on the university’s neuroscience research could be “dramatic” and “catastrophic,” the Indianapolis Star reported.

But as National Right to Life News Today has illustrated in dozens of stories, beyond the inherent indignity of harvesting fetal tissue and organs, there is a “huge number of alternatives, frankly better than fetal tissue,” as Dr. David Prentice has explained.

Adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) have far outpaced fetal tissue (as well as embryonic stem cells) in their basic research uses. Adult stem cells are the only successful stem cell in clinical practice, now treating more than 70,000 patients a year. Organoids constructed from adult stem cells, cord blood stem cells and iPS cells now replicate normal organ development and function.

There is no valid reason for continued use of the antiquated science of fetal tissue research.

Categories: Judicial