Planned Parenthood sues Indiana over new abortion rules

Posted at 1:45 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 16:57:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new Indiana law that requires medical providers who treat women for complications arising from abortions to report detailed patient information to the state "imposes unique and burdensome obligations" that are unconstitutional, Planned Parenthood said in lawsuit filed Monday that seeks to block two of the law's provisions.

The federal suit — the latest of several filed in recent years challenging abortion restrictions passed by Indiana lawmakers — contends that the reporting rules and a separate provision requiring annual inspections of abortion clinics are both unconstitutional because they target only abortions and abortion providers and not other procedures or clinics.

The complaint asks a federal judge to block those provisions, which are set to take effect July 1.

"Once again Indiana politicians are barging into the exam room with irrational demands and intrusive requirements," said Jane Henegar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which filed the suit on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky

The suit contends that the abortion complications reporting requirement creates "vague and uncertain standards" that are written so broadly "as to be meaningless."

Many of the purported abortion complications the law lists "are both extremely rare for abortions and are more likely to occur after other medical procedures," according to the suit. One condition the law lists — blood clots — is a typical and short-lived side effect of having an abortion, it argues.

Christie Gillespie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement that the new law "is not about patient safety" and adds that abortion care "is already incredibly safe."

She said restrictions are "yet another attempt by politicians to shame and stigmatize pregnant Hoosiers and spread the myth that abortion is dangerous."

Mike Fichter, the president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, which supported the legislation, called the lawsuit "sadly predictable" and said the reporting provision "brings needed transparency to the abortion industry."

"Almost every time Indiana lawmakers pass legislation to protect women's health and safety, the abortion giant runs to activist judges to block the laws," he said in a written statement.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill's office defends the state's laws against legal challenges. Spokesman Bill McCleery said in a statement that the office "will carefully review this lawsuit and consider what next steps, if any, to pursue in this case."

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb praised the law when he signed it on March 25, saying that it's similar to what many other states have enacted.