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Court denies Rokita's motion for expedited decision on Indiana abortion law

Posted at 9:14 AM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 09:14:34-04

BLOOMINGTON — The Court of Appeals of Indiana has denied a request by Indiana's chief legal officer to expedite a decision in a lawsuit surrounding the state's new abortion law.

It comes after Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita appealed a special judge's decision to temporarily put the state's new abortion law on hold while a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality proceeds.

Rokita argued that the case should immediately be moved to the Indiana Supreme Court for a final decision. But the court of appeals has argued that the case does not rise to the level of an emergency that would allow steps in the legal process to be bypassed.

The appeal was filed last Thursday, just hours after Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon granted the preliminary injunction on the basis that Senate Enrolled Act 1 "... materially burdens Hoosier women and girls' right to bodily autonomy by making that autonomy largely contingent upon first experiencing extreme sexual violence of significant loss of physical health or death."

The lawsuit was filed by several Planned Parenthood chapters exactly one week after the state's abortion restrictions went into effect on Sept. 15. It alleges the law violates the state constitution.

It's not the only battle over the new law currently playing out in the courts.

In a separate lawsuit, the ACLU of Indiana claims the abortion law violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. More recently, The Satanic Temple filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Eric Holcomb and Rokita over the restrictions.

The law prevents women from having an abortion except in instances of rape and incest before 10 weeks post-fertilization or in which the mother's life is threatened. It also makes it so that abortions can only be performed in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals.

A doctor could lose their medical license if they perform an illegal abortion or failed to file required reports.

But enforcement of the law is still on hold due to pending litigation.

Senate Bill 1 was signed into law on Aug. 5, making Indiana the first state in the nation to pass new legislation restricting abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

The Senate passed the bill with a 28-19 vote and the House passed the bill with a 62- 38 vote.

How are healthcare providers responding?

Indiana University, the largest abortion provider in Indiana, says it plans to abide by the state's new abortion restrictions despite enforcement of the law being placed on hold.

"As the largest healthcare provider and only academic health center in the state, IU Health’s priority remains to ensure our physicians and patients have clarity when making decisions about pregnancy. In the counties specified in the injunction, IU Health providers will abide by the court’s order and follow the law as it existed before Sept. 15, 2022," the university said in a statement.

Eskenazi Health provided the following statement after the preliminary injunction was granted:

"Eskenazi Health has a long history of caring for our community, especially vulnerable populations. As new regulations may impact how we can counsel, treat and care for pregnant patients across our health system, we have established a consult team made up of medical and administrative leaders to provide support for our physicians, advance practice providers and other clinicians, across multiple disciplines, in providing evidence-based, patient-centered care within the confines of the law."

WRTV Reporters Kayla Molander and Nikki DeMentri contributed to this report.