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Indiana abortion clinics reopen after judge blocks ban

Indiana’s seven abortion clinics were set to lose their state licenses under the ban — which only allows abortions in its rare exceptions to take place in hospitals or outpatient surgical centers.

The ban was approved by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature on Aug. 5 and signed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. This made Indiana the first state to pass stricter abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

The judge wrote “there is a reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction on personal autonomy will violate the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending a trial on the merits of the case.

Republican state Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement, “We plan to appeal and continue to advocate for life in Indiana,” calling the law an abortion ban. “reasonable means” of protecting the unborn child.

Women’s Med expects to see patients again beginning Friday, McHugh said.

“I had really hoped for this, but honestly, I didn’t really expect it,” she said. “So the fact that this is what happened is such a pleasant surprise and such validation of what we’ve been saying all this time.”

Whole Woman’s Health, which operates an abortion clinic in South Bend, said its staff “plan to resume abortion care in the near future”.

“Of course, this landscape of legal back-and-forth brings disruption to patient care and uncertainty for our staff,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.

Indiana’s ban followed the political storm over a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled to the state from neighboring Ohio to terminate her pregnancy. The case drew attention when an Indianapolis doctor said the child had come to Indiana because of Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” ban.

An Ohio judge has temporarily blocked that state law, saying he will allow abortions to continue up to 20 weeks gestation until the end of a hearing scheduled for Oct. 7.

With Indiana now on hold, abortion bans at any time during pregnancy are in place in 12 Republican-led states. In Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions amid litigation over whether an 1849 ban is in effect. Georgia bans abortions once fetal heart activity can be detected, and Florida and Utah have bans that go into effect after 15 and 18 weeks of gestation, respectively.

Indiana’s ban replaced state laws that generally banned abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and strictly restricted them after the 13th week. The ban includes exceptions allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represents abortion clinics, filed a lawsuit Aug. 31 and argued that the ban would “ban the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as as such, would have a devastating and irreparable impact on the Complainants. and, most importantly, their patients and customers.

Ken Falk, the legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, pointed to the state constitution’s bill of rights, including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” arguing before the judge Monday that she understood a right to privacy and to make decisions about whether to have children.

The state attorney general’s office said the court should uphold the ban, saying the arguments against it are based on a ‘new, unwritten, and historically unsupported right to abortion’ in the constitution. of State.

“The constitutional text nowhere mentions abortion, and Indiana has prohibited or heavily regulated abortion by law since 1835 – before, during, and after the Indiana Constitution of 1851 was written. debated and ratified,” the office said in a court filing. .

Whether the Indiana Constitution protects the right to abortion is undecided.

A 2004 state appeals court ruling said privacy was a fundamental value under the state constitution that extended to all residents, including women seeking abortions. But the Indiana Supreme Court later overturned that decision without determining whether the state constitution included such a right.

Hanlon, a Republican who was first elected in 2014 as a judge in Indiana’s rural southern county, wrote that Indiana’s constitution “is more explicit in its affirmation of individual rights and its limitation of legislative power to meddle in personal affairs” than the US Constitution. .

“There is a reasonable likelihood that decisions about family planning, including decisions about whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term,” are protected by the state constitution, Hanlon wrote.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinic operators involved in the lawsuit said in a statement that they are “grateful that the court has provided much-needed relief to patients, clients and providers, but this fight is far from over.” be finished”.

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