INDIANAPOLIS – On January 19, the Indiana Supreme Court will hear one of its most high-profile cases in recent history: A challenge to Indiana’s near-total abortion ban, which was passed last summer by Republican lawmakers.
The law remains on hold after a preliminary injunction was issued in September.
All five state Supreme Court justices who will hear the case were appointed by Republican governors. It was a Republican Owen County judge who approved the temporary hold on the law in the fall.
“I think it’s hard to predict how they’re going to rule,” explained Jody Madeira, a law professor at the IU Maurer School of Law.
“When you look at how liberty and autonomy evolve, that includes the right to privacy that encompasses the right to abortion,” she said.
The lawsuit being heard by the state Supreme Court alleges a right to privacy violation under the Indiana Constitution.
Republican legislative leaders have said they don’t expect new abortion legislation to move forward this session.
“We worked super hard on that over the summer and not dying to go back there,” Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said in November. “But we’ve got a Supreme Court that’s taking a look at that issue, and it wouldn’t be wise at all for us to take a crack at any changes right now until we know what that ruling is going to be.”
State lawmakers remain deeply divided on the issue.
“If the Supreme Court does not strike it down, we will continue to oppose the law that’s on the books today,” said State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis). “A very extreme ban that’s not good for women and families.”
“I’m passionately pro-life,” said State Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne). “So hopefully we’ll move forward and we’ll see what the Supreme Court does.”
Another preliminary injunction was issued against the abortion law in December amid a lawsuit arguing the ban violates Indiana’s religious freedom law. That’s a separate case from the challenge being considered by the state Supreme Court this month.