INDIANAPOLIS – Calling the law a cruel intimidation tactic, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) filed a federal lawsuit today challenging SEA 340, which requires health providers to submit a report to the state when a woman who has had an abortion seeks treatment for a wide range of health conditions. Physicians who fail to submit these reports would face criminal penalties and possible jail time. SEA 340, which was opposed by the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians, also targets abortion clinics with inspection requirements that are not imposed on other outpatient settings or hospitals.
“Once again Indiana politicians are barging into the exam room with irrational demands and intrusive requirements,” said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. “Indiana politicians are in a race to be the most extreme in the nation as they find new and reprehensible ways to block women from getting abortions and shame and punish those who do. SEA 340 singles out women and their health providers, shames women for their personal medical decisions, and threatens their doctors with criminal penalties. We’re fighting back.”
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, asserts that the law violates due process and equal protection by singling out abortion procedures and requiring invasive reporting that has nothing to do with protecting women’s health. Abortion care is one of the safest types of medical procedures – more than 99 percent safe according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others. This was confirmed recently in a landmark new report “The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States.” The research showed overwhelming proof that abortion is safe and that medically unnecessary state restrictions are what pose the greatest threat to a patient’s safety.
“Indiana is burdening abortion patients and their medical providers with reporting requirements that make little sense. These requirements are unconstitutional and need to be struck down,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director.
“At Planned Parenthood, patient safety is our top priority,” said Christie Gillespie, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK). “SEA 340 is not about patient safety. Abortion care is already incredibly safe. SEA 340 is yet another attempt by politicians to shame and stigmatize pregnant Hoosiers and spread the myth that abortion is dangerous.”
The lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case are Ken Falk, Gavin Rose, Jan Mensz from the ACLU of Indiana, Andrew Beck from the national ACLU and Carrie Flaxman from national Planned Parenthood.
SEA 340 is the latest in a series of abortion restrictions passed by Indiana lawmakers in recent years. In the last year alone, courts have blocked or invalidated three of these provisions. Last week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down key features of a sweeping anti-abortion measure (HEA 1337) that would have banned women from obtaining abortions based on their motivations for seeking one. Another provision of HEA 1337 that would have required women to travel to obtain an ultrasound and wait 18 hours to obtain an abortion was preliminarily enjoined by a federal judge last year.
Also in 2017, a federal court blocked SEA 404, which sought to impose unconstitutional requirements on physicians and health care providers as well as undue burdens on young women's personal medical decisions.
The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, was filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Indianapolis Division. The case number is 1:18-cv-1219-RLY-DLP.