Planned Parenthood, ACLU challenge new Indiana abortion law

Posted at 2:59 PM, May 18, 2017

NDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky sued Indiana officials Thursday over a new law that makes it tougher for girls under age 18 to get an abortion without their parents' knowledge, arguing that it creates "an unconstitutional undue burden on unemancipated minors."

The federal lawsuit filed in Indianapolis by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana seeks an injunction blocking some of the law's measures from taking effect July 1. The complaint contends those portions violate the U.S. Constitution's due process and equal protection provisions, and the First Amendment.

Under existing Indiana law, girls younger than 18 must either get their parents' consent to have an abortion or seek permission from a judge. But the new law would require the judge considering that request to also weigh whether the girl's parents should receive notification of her pursuit of the so-called "judicial bypass," regardless of the decision on the abortion itself.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed the law April 25, has called the measure a "parental rights issue."

But Betty Cockrum, the CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said portions of the new law "will have a chilling effect on teenagers already dealing with a difficult situation."

"We encourage teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their family members, but unfortunately not every teenager is in an environment where that is safe," Cockrum said in a statement.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in a statement Thursday that his office was reviewing the lawsuit, but added that he and his staff "look forward to defending the rights of parents and the welfare of children that are under attack by this lawsuit."

The suit challenges portions of the new law that revise the parental consent process and add a procedure that physicians must follow to verify the "identity and relationship" between the minor seeking an abortion and their parent. The suit contends those violate the Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses.

It also challenges a new provision that prevents anyone from aiding an unemancipated minor who is seeking an abortion. The suit says that violates the First Amendment because it will prohibit Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky from advising those minors "that they can travel to other states to obtain their abortions."

The suit contends the new law "fails to comply with requirements necessary for a parental involvement statute to pass constitutional muster."

It's the third lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU in the past year challenging abortion restrictions enacted by Indiana's Legislature. Two suits filed last year challenged a ban on abortions because of fetal genetic abnormalities and a mandate that forces women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion.

A federal judge blocked both provisions, which were part of the same wide-ranging abortion law then-Gov. Mike Pence, who is now vice president, signed into law in March 2016.