A new law going into effect in Indiana on Jan. 1, 2021, will require that pregnant women seeking an abortion have an ultrasound performed at least 18 hours prior to undergoing the procedure, Attorney General Curtis Hill announced on Twitter.
“For women considering abortions, ultrasounds are an important part of informed-consent counseling. Anyone interested in protecting women’s health, including their mental health, should support giving them as much information as possible to aid their decision-making,” Hill wrote on Dec. 31.
“This new law serves to empower women with knowledge,” he added.
The law was passed in 2016 by the Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence (R) but just months later in July, Planned Parenthood sued Indiana, saying the law placed an undue burden on the patient and would prevent some women from getting abortions.
Hill has argued it gives women time to reflect on a momentous life decision.
According to the Indy Star, the woman can decline, in writing, to view the ultrasound imaging or hear the heartbeat.
In April 2017, the law was struck down by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt who issued a preliminary injunction. However, Hill appealed and on July 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the case back to the federal appeals court to be re-heard.
Eventually, in August 2020, Planned Parenthood dropped its lawsuit against the state and agreed that the preliminary injunction be vacated on Jan. 1, and for the lawsuit to be dismissed.
In the agreement, the decision is in part attributed to “events that have occurred in the more than three years since this court entered the preliminary injunction,” including Planned Parenthood’s addition of an ultrasound machine at its Fort Wayne clinic.
“My office successfully defended a challenge to this law by Planned Parenthood, which dropped a lawsuit against the state in exchange for the state’s agreement to refrain from enforcing the law until 2021—giving clinics time to train staff on proper use of ultrasound equipment,” Hill said on Thursday.
“We held the line in our commitment to respect women’s health and the sanctity of human life. Planned Parenthood folded because they saw the likelihood that they would lose their lawsuit if they persisted in fighting Indiana’s very reasonable and well-grounded law.”
Despite the agreement, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky says it still opposes the new law.
In a statement to ABC affiliate WHAS 11, they said, “This medically unnecessary law passed by the state is only meant to shame, stigmatize, and restrict access to abortion, but we are fortunately able to maintain the same level of access to patient care and comply with this medically unnecessary law.”
“The burden falls heaviest on our most vulnerable community members. Women of color already bear the brunt of needless abortion restrictions and may face greater barriers to getting the abortion care they need,” the statement continued.
“Pregnant people already struggling to survive this pandemic are now being forced to navigate mandatory waiting periods that require multiple trips to a health center, placing them and their health care providers at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.”
Abortion remains legal in all 50 states across the United States.