INDIANAPOLIS – The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the ACLU National filed a lawsuit today challenging House Enrolled Act 1211, which bans the most common form of second-trimester abortion, the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure. HEA 1211 was signed into law by Governor Holcomb on Wednesday, despite the fact that the D&E procedure is a safe medical procedure performed before fetal viability. Similar or virtually identical laws have been blocked in eight other states.
HEA 1211 would go into effect July 1, 2019 and would impose additional invasive and medically unnecessary steps prior to the abortion procedure, with a heightened risk to the health of women. Under the new law, physicians who perform the D&E procedure would face criminal penalties and possible jail time. The ACLU of Indiana filed suit on behalf of two doctors, who perform abortions in Indiana prior to viability, during a woman’s second trimester.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, asserts that HEA 1211 would put undue burden on the right of a woman to obtain an abortion and is therefore unconstitutional and it would also violate the patients’ right to bodily integrity. The D&E procedure is the medically preferred method of providing second-trimester abortions as it is by far the safest and most effective method.
“HEA 1211 will discourage women from obtaining abortions and will impose a substantial and unwarranted burden on women’s ability to obtain second-trimester, pre-viability, abortions,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “In addition, doctors have an ethical obligation not to subject their patients to potentially harmful procedures that provide no medical benefit. This law would force doctors to do just that.”
HEA 1211 would force a woman seeking a second-trimester abortion to undergo dangerous and unnecessary medical procedures, to remain pregnant against her will, or to undergo an induction abortion, which is much riskier and expensive. During legislative hearings, legislators knowingly conflated two very different procedures and circumstances – D&E procedures and late-term abortions – and erroneously asserted that a fetus in the pre-viability stage of development can feel pain despite the multitude of scientific evidence to the contrary.
“Our elected officials are using misleading labels and provocative, inflammatory rhetoric, to shame women and confuse the public in order to pass an unconstitutional law,” said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. “A woman’s health should guide important medical decisions throughout her pregnancy, not political opportunism and interference. It is time for politicians to abandon misinformation, heed medical expertise, and show Hoosier women some respect.”
Attorneys on the case include Kenneth J. Falk and Gavin M. Rose, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; and Andrew Beck, American Civil Liberties Union.