Judge temporarily blocks abortion ban that took effect on September 15

BLOOMINGTON – A Judge today issued a preliminary injunction that brings at least a temporary halt to Indiana’s abortion law, one of the more restrictive in the nation.

Special Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon

Special Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon wrote in her ruling in the Monroe County case that although abortion was not legal at the time that the Indiana state constitution was written, language contained in the document suggests that there is “a reasonable likelihood” that decisions about family planning ― including whether to carry a pregnancy to term ― are protected under the state constitution.

Hanlon’s ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood of Indiana, and clinics that provide abortion, filed a lawsuit against the state in the wake of Senate Bill 1, which banned abortions in the state, except in rape or incest, a serious risk to the life of the mother, or fatal fetal anomalies. The law went into effect on September 15.

The judge’s ruling immediately restored abortion access in the state. 

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued in court Monday that the abortion ban violates both the Indiana Constitution’s right to privacy and equal privileges protections and the court agreed, concluding that “there is a reasonable likelihood that decisions about family planning, including decisions about whether to carry a pregnancy to term – are included in Article I, § 1’s protections.” Lawyers for the state had taken the position that in addition to being able to enact this ban, there is nothing stopping the Indiana General Assembly from prohibiting rape survivors from seeking abortions, or even possibly banning oral contraception outright. 

Attorney Todd Rokita made the following statement regarding the ruling.

Todd Rokita

“We plan to appeal and continue to make the case for life in Indiana. Our office remains determined to fight for the lives of the unborn, and this law provides a reasonable way to begin doing that.”

Joint statement from leaders from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, ACLU of Indiana, Whole Woman’s Health, All-Options, the Lawyering Project, and Women’s Med: 

“We knew this ban would cause irreparable harm to Hoosiers, and in just a single week, it has done just that. We are grateful that the court granted much-needed relief for patients, clients, and providers but this fight is far from over. Indiana lawmakers have made it abundantly clear that this harm, this cruelty, is exactly the reality they had in mind when they passed S.B. 1. There are 1.5 million people of reproductive age in the state of Indiana, and every single one of them deserves the right to make their own decisions about their bodies, families, and futures.”

S.B. 1 was the first abortion ban in the country to be passed, signed into law, and go into effect following this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The law was passed in a special session called by lawmakers that, while they rushed the ban through, ignored the thousands of providers, patients, and advocates that packed the statehouse, trying to appeal to the elected officials that purport to serve them. 

The lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Lawyering Project, the ACLU of Indiana, and WilmerHale on behalf of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Women’s Med Group Professional Corp, All-Options, Inc, and Dr. Amy Caldwell.