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Ind. Medication Abortion Law Set for 2015 Trial; State Senate Advances More Restrictions

Ind. Medication Abortion Law Set for 2015 Trial; State Senate Advances More Restrictions

January 31, 2014 — A federal court will hear arguments on June 1, 2015, in a challenge to an Indiana law (SB 371) that tightens restrictions on women's health facilities that offer medication abortions, USA Today reports (Evans, USA Today, 1/29).

In November, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued a temporary injunction to block the law, which would have taken effect on Jan. 1. It would affect just one clinic, a Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky facility in Lafayette, Ind.

The law requires clinics that offer only medication abortions to adhere to the same building and equipment standards as facilities that perform the surgical procedure, including extra-wide hallways and doors, a scrub room, oversized exam rooms, and a bathroom and drinking fountain in the waiting room.

In August 2013, PPINK in a federal lawsuit argued that forcing the clinic to comply with surgical facility requirements "is not only unreasonable, it is utterly irrational." It added that the law violates women's constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection and due process. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the suit on PPINK's behalf (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/2/13).

State's Response

A spokesperson for the Indiana attorney general's office, Bryan Corbin, said that "motions that could resolve the case ahead of trial will likely be filed well before 2015." Corbin also noted, "Any legislative change [in the meantime] could bear on whether the current injunction remains applicable" (USA Today, 1/29).

Ind. Senate Panel Approves Abortion Clinic Regulations

In related news, an Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday voted 8-2 to advance a modified bill on abortion clinic regulations, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The panel removed provisions that would have required abortion clinics to meet certain building code standards and undergo annual inspections.

Under the bill, abortion providers must set up 24-hour phone lines for patients to use if they have questions or complications.

The bill also would mandate that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals nearby or have a written agreement with another physician who has such privileges. In addition, clinics would have to give patients a hospital's contact information before an abortion (Ballentine, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/29).