INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana judge on Thursday blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, delaying a new law because abortion clinic operators argued it violated the state’s constitution.
County Judge Owen Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban that took effect one week ago. The order was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in the lawsuit that the country’s constitution protects access to medical procedures.
The ban was approved by the Republican-dominated state Legislature on Aug. 5 and signed by GOP Governor Eric Holcomb. It made Indiana the first state to impose stricter abortion restrictions since the US Supreme Court abolished federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
The judge wrote “there is a reasonable possibility that this significant restriction on personal autonomy violates Indiana’s Constitutional liberty guarantees” and that the clinic will win the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending trial on the basis of the lawsuit.
The state attorney general’s office and Republican legislative leaders did not immediately comment on the order.
The ban, which includes limited exceptions, replaces Indiana’s law that generally prohibits abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy and strictly limits it after the 13th week.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represents abortion clinics, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 31 and argued the ban would “prohibit the vast majority of abortions in Indiana and, as such, would have a devastating and irreparable impact on plaintiffs. and, more importantly, their patients and clients.”
Ken Falk, Indiana’s ACLU legal director, pointed to the state’s declaration of constitutional rights including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in arguing before a judge on Monday that it included the right to privacy and to make decisions about whether to have children.
The state attorney general’s office said courts should enforce the ban, arguing against it based on “a new, unwritten and historically unsupported abortion right” in the state constitution.
“The text of the constitution makes no mention of abortion, and Indiana has strictly prohibited or regulated abortion by law since 1835 — before, during, and after the time when the 1851 Indiana Constitution was drafted, debated, and ratified,” the office said in a court filing. .
The abortion ban in Indiana includes exceptions allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks after conception; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.
The new law also prohibits abortion clinics from providing abortion care, leaving the service only to hospitals or outpatient surgery centers owned by hospitals.
The lawsuit was filed in Monroe County in southern Indiana, which includes the liberal city of Bloomington and the main campus of Indiana University, but two Democratic judges elected from the county refused to take the case without giving any reasons.
Hanlon, a Republican from Owen County, accepted the appointment as special judge. Hanlon, who was first elected as a judge in 2014, was among three finalists selected by the state’s Judicial Nominations Commission in July to be appointed to the state’s appeals court, but the governor last week appointed a different judge to the position.
Source : www.nbcnews.com