INDIANAPOLIS – The State today requested United States Supreme Court to end a preliminary injunction blocking ultrasound waiting period provisions in House Enrolled Act 1337. If allowed to take effect, these provisions would require women to obtain an ultrasound 18 hours before obtaining an abortion. The District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a preliminary injunction in April 2017, which the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld.
The ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK), has successfully prevented these and other unconstitutional provisions of HEA 1337 from going into effect. HEA 1337 was passed in 2016 and signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence. This is the second of two ACLU lawsuits challenging HEA 1337 that the State has requested the Supreme Court to review.
“By granting the preliminary injunction, the lower courts concluded that PPINK would likely succeed in its claim that this requirement is unconstitutional,” said Ken Falk legal director with the ACLU of Indiana. “There is no medical justification for the ultrasound waiting period, and the requirement creates a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking to obtain an abortion.”
The new 18-hour requirement would change prior law that allowed the ultrasound to occur during the same appointment at which a woman obtained an abortion. If allowed to go into effect, the new law would force many women to make an additional, potentially lengthy and burdensome trip.
“This law only stands to harm Hoosiers. Politicians weaponized basic health care with one motive in mind -- to end abortion access. If the state of Indiana wants to address health care disparities like the infant mortality rates, it should get to work finding solutions that improve access to health care. This law does the opposite -- it chips away at a patient’s ability to access critical health care when they need it. Planned Parenthood will stand with its partners and continue to fight this medically unnecessary law,” said Christine Charbonneau, CEO of PPINK.
During the short time that the law did go into effect, some patients were unable to overcome this additional hurdle. One single mother with special-needs children called to schedule an abortion, but when she was informed that she would have to make two six-hour drives to first obtain the ultrasound and then, on a different date, obtain the abortion, she indicated that she could not have two days so close together, away from her children.
“Indiana’s law is part of a nationwide strategy to push abortion out of reach. Already four judges have seen this law for what it is -- an unnecessary government imposed obstacle standing in the way of a woman who has decided to have an abortion," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "It’s long past time for politicians to stop erecting roadblocks in the path of people trying to get the care they need.”
“If this law were to go into effect, women, especially low-income women, would be unable to exercise their rights because of obstacles such as transportation, childcare and job schedules," said Jane Henegar, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana. "We will remain vigilant in our defense of every woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.”