BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A Monroe County special judge has blocked Indiana’s new abortion law from being enforced.
Judge Kelsey B. Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction Thursday morning. The judge heard arguments in the case earlier this week.
The ACLU of Indiana and a group of abortion providers filed a lawsuit to block the new law, which went into effect on Sept. 15. Described as a near-total ban on abortion, the new law bans abortion at all times during pregnancy except in cases of rape or incest up to 10 weeks post-fertilization, risk to the mother’s health and fetal fatal anomaly.
The judge declined to issue a preliminary injunction before the law went into effect. However, after hearing arguments from the ACLU and the state this week, the judge decided to grant injunctive relief.
For now, the order means the state reverts to previous abortion law, which allows up to 20 weeks.
From the court order:
With the benefit of additional time to consider the requested injunctive relief, and having considered the record of evidence, the text of the relevant provisions of the Indiana Constitution, the relevant case law, and the thoughtfully presented arguments and submissions of Counsel for all Parties, the Court concludes that injunctive relief is warranted. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction and prohibits the Defendants’ enforcement of S.B. 1, pending a decision on the merits in this matter.
In the ruling, Hanlon indicated that there are several issues that still must be decided before the law can be enforced. Hanlon found some arguments from the plaintiffs strong in their merits and conceded that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs case shook the “analytical landscape” of federal questions surrounding abortion.
Indiana courts are not, however, bound by that interpretation of the law when it comes to the state’s constitution, which has at times been interpreted to “give greater protection to the individual liberties of Hoosiers.”
Hanlon acknowledged that the state had an interest in regulating abortion “so long as that regulation is not in violation of the Indiana Constitution.”
“Plaintiffs have also demonstrated that the public has an interest in Hoosiers being able to to make deeply private and personal decisions without undue government intrusion,” Hanlon wrote.
The judge added, “In considering the public interests, the Court must consider the constitutional rights of Indiana women and girls, but the Court cannot and should not disregard the legitimate public interest served by protecting fetal life. The Court specifically acknowledges the significant public interest in both.”
A press secretary for Governor Eric Holcomb released the following statement:
Laws, especially ones that carry with them significant change in policy, are frequently challenged in court and SEA 1 is no different. Gov. Holcomb and his team will closely follow this court case as it unfolds.
Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, issued the following statement:
Today’s blockage of Indiana’s new law means over 161 unborn children will continue to lose their lives to abortion every week this injunction stays in effect. We are encouraged by the judge’s acknowledgement of the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies and are hopeful the blockage will be brief.
Lauren Ganapini, executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party, also had a statement:
The Monroe County Circuit Court’s decision for a preliminary injunction on the abortion ban today underscores what we all know: every Hoosier has a fundamental right to privacy. Only a woman and her doctor should make personal health care decisions, not politicians, and it’s reassuring to see the decision show Hoosiers that the Indiana Republican Party’s effort to ban a legal and safe abortion has crossed the line. But the loser today continues to be taxpayers who at minimum have spent $240,000 to carry out the GOP’s extremist agenda. Enough is enough: A vote for Democrats is a vote to repeal the dangerous abortion ban and we urge all Hoosiers to support pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot this November.
Attorney General Todd Rokita also weighed in:
We plan to appeal and continue to make the case for life in Indiana. Our office remains determined to fight for the lives of the unborn, and this law provides a reasonable way to begin doing that.
The ACLU of Indiana had this to say:
We knew this ban would cause irreparable harm to Hoosiers, and in just a single week, it has done just that. We are grateful that the court granted much needed relief for patients, clients, and providers but this fight is far from over. Indiana lawmakers have made it abundantly clear that this harm, this cruelty, is exactly the reality they had in mind when they passed S.B. 1. There are 1.5 million people of reproductive age in the state of Indiana, and every single one of them deserve the right to make their own decisions about their bodies, families, and futures.
From IU Health:
As the largest healthcare provider and only academic health center in the state, IU Health’s priority remains to ensure our physicians and patients have clarity when making decisions about pregnancy. In the counties specified in the injunction, IU Health providers will abide by the court’s order and follow the law as it existed before Sept. 15, 2022.
During an interview Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) acknowledged the court battle isn’t over and urges Hoosiers to vote on the issue in November.
“We had hundreds of women standing in the hallway during that legislative debate,” Taylor said. “But you know what? If we get three times that many to go vote, their voices will be heard.”
The ACLU of Indiana has filed a separate lawsuit arguing that the law violates the state’s religious freedom law.