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Judge temporarily blocks abortion reporting rule in Indiana

Posted: 4:13 PM, Jun 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-28 20:13:44Z

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a new Indiana law's requirement that medical providers report detailed patient information to the state if they treat women for complications arising from abortions.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young granted the preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. The order blocks the provision in a state law taking effect Sunday.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state on behalf of the Planned Parenthood affiliate on April 23, arguing that the reporting provision was unconstitutional and imposed "unique and burdensome obligations." The lawsuit contends that many of the purported complications listed in the law are extremely rare for abortions and "are more likely to occur after other medical procedures."

Young, who heard arguments in the case earlier this month, wrote in his order that without the injunction, Planned Parenthood and its physicians in Indiana would "be subject to licensing penalties, and eventually criminal penalties, if they violate the challenged statute."

The judge also argued that if physicians incorrectly interpret the law, "and report less than everything, they risk civil and criminal sanctions." That, he said, violates Planned Parenthood's due process rights.

The federal lawsuit was the latest of several filed in recent years that have successfully challenged abortion restrictions passed by Indiana lawmakers, including a 2016 law signed by former Republican Gov. Mike Pence that would have banned abortions sought because the fetus has been diagnosed with a disability.

The latest law to be challenged, passed this year by lawmakers, was signed in March by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. The plaintiffs initially asked the judge to also block a second provision that requires annual inspections of abortion clinics, but they later sought an injunction only for the new reporting requirement. They have also asked Young to eventually make his order permanent.

Attorneys for the state urged Young not to block the reporting provision from taking effect. In court documents, they argued that the requirement "serves the public interest by collecting comprehensive data on the complications that may result from abortion and the frequency of those complications."