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Judge: IU can't join suit against abortion law

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Posted at 4:23 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 17:43:33-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana University may not join a lawsuit against the state's new abortion law.

Judge Debra McVicker Lynch denied IU's motion to join the lawsuit against HEA 1337 filed by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

PREVIOUS | IU files to join lawsuit against new abortion law | Read more about what HEA 1337 entails here | Read about the ACLU and PPINK's lawsuit against the law here | See how the law sparked the "Periods for Pence" group in opposition

In an 11-page response, Lynch said IU had missed important deadlines in the case. IU's claims also "do not share the same factual and legal underpinnings" as the ACLU/PPINK suit, Lynch said.

The university filed the motion Friday, claiming the law – which, in part, adds new restrictions to the handling and disposal of fetal tissue – could turn the school's ongoing research into Alzheimer's, autism and other diseases into a felony. IU also claimed the law violates its researchers' First Amendment rights to academic freedom.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office opposed IU joining the suit, saying its complaints didn't sufficiently overlap with PPINK's.

“These two separate disputes do not sufficiently overlap to justify litigating them together; IU is not making the same legal argument as Planned Parenthood or even challenging the same statute as Planned Parenthood,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a written statement.

Lynch ultimately agreed, but stressed that IU may still file its own, separate suit.

"All that said – and to repeat – denial of IU's motion to intervene does not foreclose IU from filing its own case or seeking an expedited schedule for discovery and resolution of its preliminary injunction motion before July 1," Lynch wrote.

The attorney general's office released the following statement Tuesday after the court issued its ruling:

“We agree with the U.S. District Court’s conclusion that the IU plaintiffs should not be allowed to intervene in the existing lawsuit since the two disputes do not overlap sufficiently and the IU plaintiffs were not making the same legal argument as Planned Parenthood or even challenging the same statute as Planned Parenthood. The IU plaintiffs can assert their legal position through a separate lawsuit and we appreciate the Court’s prompt ruling."

HEA 1337 is scheduled to take effect July 1. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has yet to rule on PPINK's request for an injunction.