Indiana Abortion Ban Challenge Finds Judge After Initial Withdrawals

Indiana Abortion Ban Challenge Finds Judge After Initial Withdrawals
A Planned Parenthood building in New York on Aug. 31, 2015. (Lucas Jackson/File Photo/Reuters)
Naveen Athrappully

A lawsuit filed against Indiana’s abortion ban has finally found a judge after two judges had recused themselves from the case.

The lawsuit, filed on Aug. 30, challenged Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), which was recently signed into law by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. This was the first new abortion ban passed by a state legislature following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The case first went to Monroe Circuit Court Judge Holly Harvey who recused herself from presiding over it.

The lawsuit then went to Judge Geoffrey Bradley who also refused to take it up. Finally, Indiana Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon has agreed to preside over the lawsuit, allowing the case to move forward.

The lawsuit is filed by Planned Parenthood, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, All-Options, Inc., Women’s Med Group Professional Corporation, and a doctor. The plaintiffs claim that S.B. 1 will “leave the thousands of Hoosiers who seek abortion care each year with few options.”

“Although those who are able to acquire the necessary resources may travel long distances to obtain care in another state, doing so will impose substantial economic and logistical burdens, particularly for those who are low-income … Nearly 75 percent of those who seek abortions nationwide have poverty-level incomes,” the lawsuit states.

The plaintiffs argue that SB 1 violates the state’s equal privileges and immunities law and breaches the Indiana constitution’s due course law.

The lawsuit asked the court to issue a permanent injunction banning the operation, enforcement, and execution of SB 1. It also wants the court to declare that SB 1 is unconstitutional.

Indiana Abortion

SB 1 makes it a felony to provide abortion services in Indiana. Abortion is only allowed in limited situations when the fetus is diagnosed as having an anomaly; the mother’s life is in danger; or when the pregnancy is the result of incest or rape.

Abortion providers violating SB 1 stand to have their licenses revoked as well as face fines of up to $10,000, and prison terms of up to six years. SB 1 is due to come into effect on Sept. 15.

“Following the overturning of Roe, I stated clearly that I would be willing to support legislation that made progress in protecting life. In my view, [SB 1] accomplishes this goal following its passage in both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly with a solid majority of support,” Governor Holcomb said in a statement on Aug. 5 after signing the bill into law.

Another lawsuit is also challenging SB 1. Filed on behalf of Hoosier Jews for Choice on Sept. 8, the case argues that SB 1 violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Signed into law in 2015, RFRA bans any government action that interferes with an individual’s religious exercise unless the administration proves that it has a compelling reason for such an action.