INDIANAPOLIS – As lawmakers on Capitol Hill see a proposal for a national abortion ban, Indiana’s new abortion guidelines are now in effect. September 15 was the first day abortions were largely outlawed except in cases of rape, incest, “lethal fetal anomaly,” and to prevent substantial impairment to the life or health of a pregnant woman.
Meanwhile, the law is still in the midst of several legal challenges that could see it removed from enforcement. Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, hopes judges will put Indiana’s law on hold as his two lawsuits are being decided.
“We can’t minimize how serious the loss of abortion right in Indiana will be,” Falk said.
One of the suits argues the law is a privacy violation under the Indiana Constitution. The other argues the abortion ban conflicts with the state’s religious freedom law, since not all religions believe life begins at conception.
State Democratic lawmakers also took to the steps outside the Statehouse to call attention to their concerns. In a press conference on the first day of the law, they criticized Republicans in the General Assembly for their actions that drew national attention.
“Women and girls are mourning the loss of rights as we wake up today and face a new reality,” said State Rep. Maureen Bauer (D – South Bend). “Indiana Republicans have rolled back women’s rights by 50 years.”
Meanwhile, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is vowing to defend the state against any lawsuit that’s filed. With the law now in effect, Rokita says his office is focused on enforcement. Violations will be presented to the state’s Medical Licensing Board, but any complaint will be thoroughly vetted first.
“Indiana has had an abortion ban in its history before,” Rokita said. “I doubt we’re gonna rove around… looking in facilities and that kind of thing. It’s gonna be driven by complaints and tips we receive.”
The Attorney General is also responding to the controversy surrounding his investigation into Dr. Caitlin Bernard. She performed an abortion on an Ohio 10-year-old rape survivor who traveled to Indiana for the procedure. Rokita called the doctor an “abortion activist acting as a doctor,” and accused her of not following privacy laws.
After reviewing the paperwork, Fox 59 found that Dr. Bernard did follow the law, and an IU Health review found she did not violate the girl’s privacy. Rokita is pushing back at claims that he and his office are intimidating physicians.
“If it’s me, it’s been my predecessors… our job that we do at the Attorney General’s Office is to enforce Indiana law,” Rokita said. “Now this one may have been high-profile, but that does not change our actions, or how we behave or investigate the complaints that we receive.”
As for the ongoing lawsuits, a hearing on the right to privacy matters is scheduled for Monday in Monroe County. The judge is expected to decided whether to issue a “preliminary injunction,” putting the law on hold temporarily. Meanwhile, the lawsuit on religious freedom is set for October 14th in Marion County.
Watch more reaction from the key lawmakers, officials, and lawyers in the video above.