Federal judge rules against several Indiana abortion laws

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that several of Indiana’s laws restricting abortion are unconstitutional, including the state’s ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortions.

The judge’s ruling released Tuesday also upheld other state abortion limits that were challenged in a broad lawsuit filed by Virginia-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance in 2018 as it fought the denial of a license to open an abortion clinic in South Bend.

U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a permanent injunction against the telemedicine ban, along with state laws requiring in-person examinations by a doctor before medication abortions and that women seeking abortions be told human life begins when the egg is fertilized.

Defendants and their respective agents, officers, employees, and successors, and all persons acting in concert with each or any of them or under their direction or control are hereby PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from implementing, enforcing, administering, invoking, or giving any effect to the following statutory and regulatory provisions:

  • Ind. Code § 16-34-2-1(a)(1) to the extent this statute limits the provision of first trimester medication abortion care to physicians; requires a physical examination to be performed on a woman prior to receiving an abortion; and prohibits the use of telemedicine by requiring the prescriber to be physically present at the abortion facility in order to dispense the abortion-inducing drug and the patient to ingest the drug in the physical presence of prescriber;
  • Ind. Code § 16-34-2-1(a)(2) providing that second-trimester abortions be performed only in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers;
  • Ind. Code § 16-34-2-1.1(a)(1), (a)(4), (b)(1) to the extent these provisions prohibit providers from using telemedicine or telehealth to obtain informed consent from patients or to conduct preabortion counseling sessions;
  • Ind. Code § 25-1-9.5-8(a)(4) prohibiting the use of telemedicine in abortion care;
  • 410 Ind. Admin. Code § 26-17-2(d)(1)(A), (4), (e)(5) requiring clinics providing aspiration abortions to maintain 120-square-foot procedure rooms, scrub facilities, and 44-inch corridors;
  • 410 Ind. Admin. Code § 26.5-17-2(e)(1) requiring medication abortion clinics to maintain housekeeping rooms with storage sinks;
  • Ind. Code § 16-34-2-1.1(a)(1)(E) and (a)(1)(G) requiring women seeking abortion services to be informed that "objective scientific information shows that a fetus can feel pain at or before twenty (20) weeks of postfertilization age" and that "human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm"; and
  • Ind. Code § 16-34-2-1.1(b)(2) to the extent it requires dissemination of a Perinatal Hospice Brochure containing the following: "Studies show that mothers who choose to carry their baby [sic] to term recover to baseline mental health more quickly than those who aborted due to fetal anomaly."
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