INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge appointed by Barack Obama has blocked Indiana’s new drug-induced abortion facility standards, which would have affected the sole pill-based Planned Parenthood in the state.
As previously reported, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had filed suit in August on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, asserting that that the law, which requires facilities to conform to surgical abortion standards, infringes upon the constitutional rights of abortion providers.
“The laws irrationally and invidiously discriminate against PPINK [Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky],” Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, told the Courier-Journal. “and pose a significant and unnecessary burden that violates the Constitution’s guarantees of privacy, due process and equal protection.”
More specifically, the ACLU alleged that the law targeted the sole abortion facility in the state that only provides drug-induced abortions: Planned Parenthood in LaFayette.
“These legislative changes were made specifically to target PPINK’s Lafayette clinic as the fact that the clinic was the only non-surgical abortion facility in Indiana that prescribed and dispensed abortion inducing drugs was frequently mentioned during legislative debates,” it wrote in its legal complaint.
During medical abortions, drugs such as RU-486 and others are used to terminate the pregnancy and cause the developing–and now deceased–baby to be expelled out of the body. Most commonly, the child is birthed into the toilet.
“After taking the mifepristone and receiving detailed instructions and scheduling a followup appointment, the patient will leave the office. Before leaving the office she will receive, but not take, another medication – misoprostol, which is a prostaglandin that will cause uterine contractions that expel the uterine contents,” the ACLU explained of the procedure. “The woman will take the misoprostol, as instructed, approximately 24 hours later at a location of her choosing outside of the clinic.”
But the organization contended in court documents that the requirement that pill-based facilities meet surgical standards violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, since the same requirements would not apply to private physicians in the state that also dispense the medication.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson sided with the ACLU and granted a temporary injunction against the new law, which would have gone into effect on January 1st.
“The state has not presented a rational basis for this distinction,” she wrote, referencing the exemption granted to physicians’ offices.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who had defended the statute in court, said in a statement that he is reviewing the decision and is considering the state’s next steps.
“This new law reflects the policy judgment of Indiana legislators elected by our citizens,” he stated. “The court’s decision faulting the law for treating nonsurgical abortion clinics different from physicians’ offices must be thoroughly reviewed. Because of the narrow ruling, we will consult with our clients and decide how next to proceed in the case.”
Zoeller could appeal the injunction to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, or allow the ruling to stand. He had 30 days to decide.
According to reports, there were 8,000 abortions in Indiana last year, 20 percent of which were drug induced.