Groups Challenge Indiana’s Abortion Ban

Indiana lawmakers, during the recent special session, took a stand on abortion. This week, several groups combined efforts and filed a lawsuit challenging it.

Senate Bill 1, signed into law last month by Gov. Holcomb, was the first new abortion ban passed by a state legislature following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. It will effectively eliminate abortion access in the state when it goes into effect Sept. 15 in Indiana.

Just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal constitutional right to abortion, Indiana lawmakers convened for a special session to outlaw and eliminate abortion access in the state — rushing Senate Bill 1 to passage in two weeks. The law bans abortion, with criminal penalties for providers who violate the law, and includes only extraordinarily narrow exceptions that will allow patients to access abortion in only the very rarest circumstances. 

For those able to meet the extraordinarily narrow exceptions included in the bill, they will be forced to obtain abortion care at a hospital, as S.B.1 also writes abortion clinics out of the health code.

The lawsuit argues the abortion ban violates both the Indiana Constitution’s right to privacy and equal privileges protections.

“Today, we are asking that the court does what Indiana lawmakers didn’t — protect Hoosiers’ constitutional rights. Unless this ban is blocked, patients seeking abortion will be unable to access timely and potentially life-saving care in their own communities,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said. “The abortion ban that the legislature rushed through during a special session — nearly immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — is both dangerous and incredibly cruel. We demand more for patients and providers, and we will continue fighting for everyone’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures.”

Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, agreed.

“From its very inception, the Indiana Constitution has protected the right to privacy. Implicit in this right, is the right for a woman to make medical decisions regarding her own reproductive health. This ban on abortion will force Hoosiers to carry pregnancies against their will, leading to life-altering consequences and serious health risks. Deeply private, personal, and unique decisions about reproductive health should be made by women in consultation with their doctors. Whether Indiana elected officials personally agree with abortion access or not, it is not up to the government to make these decisions for Hoosiers.”

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.