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Federal judge rules portions of Indiana abortion law unconstitutional

Posted at 10:37 AM, Sep 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 10:00:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal judge struck down provisions of an Indiana law passed last year that would have banned abortions sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities and required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt’s decision, issued Friday, found that those two provisions and a third one are unconstitutional. She granted an order permanently blocking all three from being enforced and granted summary judgment in favor of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which had sued the state in April 2016 after then-Gov. Mike Pence signed the provisions into law.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed suit in April 2016 saying that the requirements in HEA 1337 were unconstitutional.

"Every person deserves the right to make their own personal decisions about abortion. There is no medical basis for these restrictions. This is just another example of politicians coming between physicians and patients," said Christie Gillespie, President and CEO of PPINK.

Judge Pratt issued a preliminary injunction on June 30, 2016, that blocked parts of HEA 1337 from going into effect the next day.

At that time, Judge Pratt stated that parts of the law were likely to be found unconstitutional.

She made a formal ruling to that effect with a summary judgment issued on Sept. 22.

From that judgment:

It is DECLARED that the following provisions of House Enrolled Act 1337 violate the United States Constitution, and the State of Indiana, its agents and agencies, and all political subdivisions thereof are ENJOINED from enforcing them:

  • The anti-discrimination provisions, Indiana Code §§ 16-34-4-4, 16-34-4-5, 16-34-4-6, 16-34-4-7, 16-34-4-8;
  • The information dissemination provision, Indiana Code § 16-34-2-1.1(a)(1)(K); and
  • All of the fetal tissue disposition provisions, Indiana Code §§ 16-34-3-4(a), Indiana Code 16-41-16-4(d).

The provisions referred to in the judgment cover an abortion that is performed solely because of the sex, race, color, national origin and ancestry of the fetus, as well as abortions performed because the fetus has been diagnosed with or has the potential diagnosis of Down syndrome, or an abortion being performed  because the fetus has been diagnosed with or has the potential diagnosis of a genetically-inherited disability.

The judgment also covers requirements of the abortion clinic or health care facility to provide for burial or cremation.


The three restrictions violate women’s due process rights under the Constitution and conflict with rulings by numerous courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding a woman’s right to seek an abortion before a fetus could viably survive outside the womb, Pratt wrote in her ruling.

“The challenged anti-discrimination provisions directly contravene well-established law that precludes a state from prohibiting a woman from electing to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability,” the judge wrote.

Pratt’s order also permanently blocks a requirement that abortion providers tell women that Indiana prohibits such abortions, and another provision that would have required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

The state of Indiana does plan to appeal. They have 30 days to do so. 


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