Roe v. Wade

Judge Lifts Order Against Indiana Abortion Procedure Ban

A federal judge has allowed an Indiana law largely banning a second-trimester abortion procedure to take effect following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s order signed Thursday lifted the injunction she issued in 2019 blocking the law against the dilation and evacuation abortions.

The law took effect immediately, according to the state attorney general’s office, and is the first tightening of Indiana’s anti-abortion laws since the Supreme Court decision. Indiana could have more sweeping abortion restrictions by next month as the Republican-dominated Legislature is scheduled to begin a special legislative session on July 25.

Barker granted a request from the Indiana attorney general’s office to lift her order, writing that the Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning the 1973 landmark ruling that made abortion legal nationwide removed the “linchpin holdings” for her analysis.

The Republican-backed legislation prohibits doctors from performing what it calls “dismemberment abortion” except to prevent serious health risk or save the woman’s life. A doctor violating the law could face a felony charge, punishable by up to six years in prison.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana conceded last week in court filings that the Supreme Court ruling doomed the injunction it had won for Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis gynecologist who performs the procedure.

Bernard described women undergoing the procedure as having “wanted pregnancies” while facing serious medical complications.

Bernard said in an interview that the law’s exception allowing the procedure for medical necessary reasons was not sufficient protection for doctors.

“What percent chance of death counts?” Bernard said. “Medicine is not that black and white.

The procedure used during the second trimester of pregnancy accounted for 27 abortions, or 0.35%, of those performed in Indiana during 2017, the last year that an annual Indiana Department of Health abortion report included specific procedure counts. Current state law generally prohibits abortions after 13 weeks of pregnancy, with 1.2% of the 8,414 abortions reported in Indiana last year occurring after that period.

Republican state Attorney General Todd Rokita hailed the lifting of the injunction as “an exciting battle victory in our war to defend the unborn and protect women.”

Barker, who was nominated as a judge by President Ronald Reagan, declined to lift a separate injunction against a 2017 Indiana law that would require parents to be notified if a court allows a girl younger than 18 to get abortion without parental consent. Barker cited procedural reasons, pointing out that the challenge of that law was pending with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

The attorney general’s office asked the appeals court on Friday to throw out the injunction.

Republican legislative leaders have said they will consider additional abortion restrictions during the upcoming special session but have not yet released any details on whether they will seek a complete ban or allow exceptions, such as in cases of rape, incest or to protect the woman’s life.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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