INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal court today blocked provisions of a restrictive new abortion law, SEA 404, from taking effect, granting a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) and its patients. Signed by Governor Eric Holcomb earlier this year, SEA 404 sought to impose unconstitutional requirements on physicians and health care providers as well as undue burdens on young women's personal medical decisions.
"Today's ruling is a victory for women and another rebuke of politicians who insist on putting their own agenda ahead of women's health and safety," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. "Today's ruling should also send a clear message to politicians in the capitol to stop putting arbitrary and invasive bureaucratic hurdles between women and their personal medical decisions."
SEA 404 included an unnecessary and dangerous add-on to Indiana's existing parental consent law. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a minor who is unable or unwilling to obtain parental consent for an abortion must be allowed to obtain an abortion if a judge determines that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision herself or that an abortion is in her best interest. Indiana has long had such a procedure. SEA 404, however, would afford another opportunity for a parent to block a minor's decision to obtain an abortion by allowing parents to be notified, even in cases in which a judge has determined that a young woman is mature enough to make the decision herself. The Court concluded that this provision "places an unjustifiable burden on mature minors in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."
"This decision affirms that the state must continue to provide a safe alternative for young women who - whatever their circumstances - are unable to talk to their parents about this difficult and personal decision," said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director, Ken Falk. "Instead of protecting women and families, these heavy-handed restrictions would have burdened young women's constitutional rights and put their health and safety at risk."
Another provision of the new legislation would have imposed unconstitutional requirements on physicians to review identification that is not required for any other medical or surgical procedure. A third provision of SEA 404 violates the First Amendment free speech requirements by silencing health care providers who may give information to young women about their legal options in seeking an abortion in the absence of parental consent.
"Judge Sarah Evans Barker's ruling is an affirmation of abortion rights in Indiana," said Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of PPINK. "PPINK encourages teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their family members, but we recognize that not every teen is able to do so safely. SEA 404 sought to silence our staff and prevent fully-informed conversations with our patients. It is blatantly unconstitutional and yet another example of politicians trying to make medical decisions for Hoosiers."
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The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, et al., Case1:17-cv-01636-SEB-DML, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on May 18, 2017 and was decided on June 28, 2017.