Indiana judge takes up abortion ban challenge after 2 judges recuse themselves

ByNADINE EL-BAWAB via ABCNews logo
Saturday, September 10, 2022
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Is abortion illegal in Indiana? Judge Kelsey Hanlon agreed to take up a challenge to the state's abortion ban law after two judges recused themselves.

Indianapolis, Ind. -- Indiana Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon has agreed to preside over a lawsuit brought by abortion providers challenging the state's abortion ban after two judges recused themselves from the case. A near-total ban on abortions is set to go into effect in Indiana on Sept. 15.

Plaintiffs have asked the court for a preliminary injunction to stop the ban's implementation until the lawsuit is resolved.

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Monroe Circuit Court Judge Holly Harvey recused herself from presiding over the lawsuit last week. Her office declined to comment to ABC News on her decision. The case was transferred to Judge Geoffrey Bradley, but Bradley declined jurisdiction of the case on Thursday without listing a reason for his recusal in court filings.

Indiana's ban makes it a felony to provide abortion services and only allows for three exceptions, according to the lawsuit. Abortions up to certain stages in pregnancy are permitted if the woman's life is in danger, the fetus is diagnosed with a fatal anomaly or if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, according to the lawsuit.

Providers who violate the ban will have their license revoked and could face between one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The lawsuit also alleges that the ban infringes on a resident's right to privacy, therefore violating Indiana's guarantee of equal privileges and immunities. Moreover, the law violates the state constitution's due course of law clause because of its unconstitutionally vague language, the lawsuit states.

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The lawsuit was filed by abortion providers including Planned Parenthood, the Lawyering Project, the ACLU of Indiana and WilmerHale on behalf of abortion providers including Planned Parenthood, Women's Med Group Professional Corp and All-Options. The suit was filed against members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana and county prosecutors.

Hanlon scheduled an initial telephone hearing for Monday.