INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana judge on Thursday blocked enforcement of the state’s abortion ban, suspending the new law because abortion clinic operators argue it violates the state constitution.
Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban that went into effect a week ago. The injunction was requested by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure.
The ban was passed by the Republican-dominated state Legislature on August 5 and signed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. That made Indiana the first state to enact stricter abortion restrictions since the US Supreme Court struck down federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
The judge wrote that “there is a reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction on personal autonomy will offend the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.
The state attorney general’s office and top Republican legislative leaders did not immediately comment on the order.
The ban, which includes narrow exceptions, replaced Indiana laws that generally prohibited abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and strictly restricted them after the 13th week.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represents abortion clinics, filed the suit Aug. 31, arguing that the ban “would ban the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as such, will have a devastating and irreparable impact on the plaintiffs. and, most importantly, their patients and clients.”
Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, pointed to the state constitution’s bill of rights that includes “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in arguing before the judge Monday that it included the right to privacy and make decisions about whether to have children.
The state attorney general’s office said the court should uphold the ban, arguing against it based on a “novel, unwritten and historically unsupported right to abortion” in the state constitution.
“There is no mention of abortion anywhere in the constitutional text, and Indiana has prohibited or heavily regulated abortion by law since 1835, before, during and after the time the 1851 Indiana Constitution was written, debated and ratified,” he said. the office in a court file. .
Indiana’s abortion ban includes exceptions that allow abortions in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks after fertilization; protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.
The new law also prohibited abortion clinics from providing abortion services, leaving such services solely to hospitals or hospital-owned ambulatory surgical centers.
The suit was filed in southern Indiana’s Monroe County, which includes the liberal-leaning city of Bloomington and the main campus of Indiana University, but two Democratic judges elected from that county refused to hear the case without give reasons.
Hanlon, a Republican from neighboring Owen County, accepted the appointment as special judge. Hanlon, who was first elected a judge in 2014, was among the three finalists the state Judicial Nominating Commission selected in July to be appointed to the state appeals court, but last week the governor appointed a judge different for the job.
Source : www.nbcnews.com