Federal Judge Strikes Down Several Indiana Abortion Laws

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
August 10, 2021 Updated: August 10, 2021

A federal judge in Indianapolis struck down several of the state’s abortion laws on Tuesday, ruling that they are unconstitutional, including the ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortion services.

District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, in her ruling (pdf) also upheld some of the state’s abortion laws that were challenged in a lawsuit by Whole Woman’s Health Alliance and two other abortion providers in 2018.

The lawsuit argued that more than 20 of the state’s abortions laws were unconstitutional. The judge issued a permanent injunction prohibiting state employees from “implementing, enforcing, administering or invoking” eight abortion provisions.

Barker ruled against Indiana’s telemedicine ban, as well as state laws requiring in-person examinations by a doctor before medication abortions. She also ruled against the ban on second-trimester abortions outside hospitals or surgery centers and state laws requiring that women seeking abortions be told human life begins when the egg is fertilized and that a fetus might feel pain at or before 20 weeks.

The lawsuit “reflects an attempt by Plaintiffs to reduce Indiana’s prolix and often burdensome legal scheme governing abortion services, the number and complexity of which limitations have increased during the decades following Roe v. Wade,” Barker said in her ruling.

Barker said that these restrictions “have resulted in women facing substantial obstacles to securing abortion services in Indiana,” agreeing with the lawsuit’s argument that the state should return to “a system of reasonable and medically appropriate abortion regulations by striking down Indiana’s unduly burdensome abortion laws.”

The judge wrote that Indiana lacked the constitutional authority to restrict the use of telemedicine consultations.

“The State’s attempt to explain its basis for excluding the far-reaching benefits of telemedicine from this category of patients is feeble at best, especially given the widespread use of telemedicine throughout Indiana as well as the overall safety of medication abortions,” Barker wrote.

State abortion laws upheld by Barker however include requiring an ultrasound be performed on the woman 18 hours before an abortion procedure, allowing abortion counseling by only physicians and advance practice clinicians, and criminal penalties for violating state abortion restrictions.

The Epoch Times reached out to Whole Woman’s Health Alliance for comment.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, said in a statement that the judge’s ruling contradicts higher court decisions.

“We will continue to fight to defend Indiana’s commonsense abortion laws and to build a culture of life in Indiana,” Rokita said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.