Planned Parenthood CEO says court’s decision to block abortion law is like ‘Independence Day’ for women

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INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge has blocked the Indiana abortion law from taking effect.

Gov. Mike Pence signed HEA 1337 into law on March 24, 2016. The law prevents women from aborting a fetus due to Down syndrome or other genetic abnormalities. The measure also prohibits abortions sought on the basis of gender or race. Indiana is the second state in the nation to enact such a law.

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the state in April, saying the law is unconstitutional and violates women's privacy rights. Pratt heard arguments June 14.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and issued an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced. The law would have gone into effect on Friday, July 1.

The following information is from the court documents on the ruling:

On the first two provisions:

The reasons that follow, PPINK is entitled to an injunction as to all of the challenged provisions. PPINK is likely to succeed on the merits of its challenge to the anti-discrimination provisions because they directly contravene the principle established in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), that a state may not prohibit a woman from making the ultimate decision to have an abortion prior to fetal viability. Similarly, the information dissemination provision is likely unconstitutional as it requires abortion providers to convey almost certainly false information to their patients. In addition, PPINK faces irreparable harm of a significantly greater magnitude if these provisions are not enjoined than that faced by the State from an injunction.

On the fetal tissue:

PPINK’s challenges to the fetal tissue disposition provisions present a much closer call and present difficult legal questions about which there are few clear answers. In the end, however, the Court concludes that the State’s asserted interest in treating fetal remains with the dignity of human remains is not legitimate given that the law does not recognize a fetus as a person. Therefore, PPINK has a strong likelihood of success on its substantive due process challenge to these provisions as well. Because the balance of harms also favors PPINK regarding this claim, PPINK has demonstrated that the Court should enjoin the fetal tissue disposition provisions pending resolution of this litigation.

From the conclusion:

The United States Supreme Court has stated in categorical terms that a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability. It is clear and undisputed that until Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey are overturned by the United States Supreme Court, this Court is bound to follow that precedent under the rule of stare decisis. See Casey, 505 U.S. at 870, 112 S.Ct. 2791 (stating that the doctrine of stare decisis requires reaffirmance of Roe’s essential holding recognizing a woman’s right to choose an abortion before fetal viability); MKB Mgmt. Corp. v. Burdick, 954 F. Supp. 2d 900 (D. N.D. 2013) (“[n]o judge in the United States can overrule Roe v. Wade; only the Supreme Court can do so”); Sojourner v. Roemer, 772 F. Supp. 930, 932 (E.D. La. 1991).

 

4 Fast Facts

  • Governor Pence signed a new abortion bill into law in March.
  • The law banned women from getting abortions due to genetic abnormalities, gender, or race.
  • ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood saying the law was unconstitutional.
  • The judge ruled in favor of planned Parenthood and blocked the law from going into effect.

 

Planned Parenthood held a press conference with ACLU Lawyer Ken Falk Thursday afternoon to share their reaction to the ruling.

“Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana. We get to celebrate our freedoms,” said Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky CEO Betty Cockrum.

Falk emphasized the fact that the legislature tried to create a law that he said would essentially overrule Roe v. Wade. "The right of a woman to obtain an abortion is a fundamental right of privacy… and those rights cannot be infringed upon by the state," said Falk.

“We hear a lot from both the executive and legislative branches in the statehouse of Indiana about those precious freedoms and how they need to be protected. Never as a woman in Indiana do I feel that they’re talking about me, today they’re talking about me, they’re talking about the 51% of the population that is female,” said Cockrum.

The Governor had this to say less than 30 minutes after the ruling came down, during an interview with a news station in Evansville, "Well, we are looking at it.  Our team is reviewing the judge's order today, what the implications of that will be.  We will have a statement later today.  But, I am Pro-Life.  I will continue to stand for the sanctity of life, for the unborn, and especially for those continue to stand for the right and the appropriate, compassionate medical procedures and standards for expectant mothers in Indiana."

A spokesperson for Governor Mike Pence issued this statement about the ruling:

“While disappointed in today's ruling, Governor Pence remains steadfast in his support for the unborn, especially those with disabilities. The Governor will continue to stand for the sanctity of human life in all stages, for the compassionate and safe treatment of women faced with an enormously difficult decision, and for the rights of citizens to determine appropriate medical safety standards and procedures through their elected representatives. While the judicial process continues, the Governor remains focused on growing the already robust Hoosier economy and providing a world class education for all our children.”

Democratic candidate for governor John Gregg issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

“HEA 1337 was always more about Mike Pence’s personal ideology than science, medicine or common sense. State government should focus on growing the economy, raising wages, strengthening schools and fixing unsafe roads and bridges, not on private conversations between Hoosiers and their doctors. As someone who is personally pro-life, I believe this was an unnecessary, irresponsible, poorly thought-out law and am pleased it won't be going into effect tomorrow.”

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