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Ind. Asks Federal Court To Let Medication Abortion Restrictions Take Effect

Ind. Asks Federal Court To Let Medication Abortion Restrictions Take Effect

August 21, 2014 — The Indiana attorney general's office on Monday requested summary judgment in a federal court case challenging a state law (SB 371) that would impose additional building requirements on health clinics offering medication abortion, the AP/Lafayette Journal & Courier reports (Wilson, AP/Lafayette Journal & Courier, 8/19).

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. It would affect just one clinic, a Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky facility in Lafayette, Ind.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in August 2013 filed suit against the law, which was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. In November, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson issued a temporary injunction to block the law (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/31).

State's Arguments

The state on Monday argued that ACLU of Indiana did not prove in its court filings that the law would prevent women from obtaining abortions.

State attorneys acknowledged that the law might require women to travel farther for an abortion, but they said that imposition was not illegal and that women would still be able to access abortion. "The Supreme Court has never held that a woman is entitled to the abortion method of her choice," they wrote.

If the law took effect, women in Lafayette would have to travel more than an hour to obtain medication abortion in either Indianapolis or Merrillville, according to PPINK CEO Betty Cockrum.

The state's filing also disputed ACLU's claims that the law violates a constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

ACLU made the equal protection argument based on the fact that the law does not require doctors' offices that offer medication abortion to meet the building requirements if medication abortion is not the offices' primary source of business. The state countered that lawmakers have the constitutional authority to treat doctors' offices and abortion clinics differently (AP/ Lafayette Journal & Courier, 8/19).