Judge Nixes Indiana's Ultrasound Law

Posted April 07, 2017

In last week's U.S. Senate vote, Vice President Pence broke a 50-50 tie to advance a bill allowing states to block federal "Title X" family planning funds from organizations that provide abortions.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a preliminary injunction Friday because of a lawsuit by the ACLU a year ago on behalf of Planned Parenthood of IN and Kentucky that took on Indiana's Department of Health and local officials, according to Reuters.

Under the mandate, women would have to travel to one of only six Planned Parenthood health centers offering an informed-consent ultrasound appointment.

It also require funerals for fetal remains, and the identities of abortion providers must be public information.

The law took effect on July 1, 2016.

With HEA 1337, IN lawmakers created several new provisions regulating abortions IN the state, but Friday's ruling addresses only the ultrasound mandate. The judge ruled that the law is likely unconstitutional and puts an undue burden on women who wish to have an abortion, especially low-income women.

And while Planned Parenthood isn't named in a memo to colleagues authored by Eichelberger or even in the bill itself, the bill does stipulate that the Department of Health may not enter into a contract with "any entity that performs abortions that are not federally qualified abortions or maintains or operates a facility where such abortions are performed".

"Like the state's position with regards to PPINK's pre-existing policies, its contention that PPINK could make different business decisions to mitigate the burdens caused by the new ultrasound law is unpersuasive", she wrote. Our doctors know the best medical protocol is to perform an ultrasound closer to the time of the procedure, not 18 hours in advance.

Pratt, who heard arguments on the case in November, found that the state had not presented "compelling evidence" to support its argument that the mandate would help convince pregnant women not to have an abortion.

Abortion advocates contend that the restrictions at hand are so stringent that few providers can meet them.

Pratt also found that "there is little to no concrete evidence" to support the state's argument that informed-consent waiting periods decrease the likelihood that a woman will go through with an abortion they already made a decision to have.

Vice President Mike Pence may now live thousands of miles away from IN, but his home state is still reckoning with his legacy.

CEO of Planned Parenthood of IN and Kentucky, Betty Cockrum, says the requirement flew IN the face of evidence-based medical practices.

This is why we need Congress to continue working to defund Planned Parenthood. The judge also blocked a provision requiring that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

Planned Parenthood of IN and Kentucky (PPINK), which brought the case against the law to court with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of IN, celebrated the "major victory".

The Indiana Attorney General's office was preparing a statement on the ruling, said spokesman Corey Elliot.