Indiana abortion ban blocked by judge week after it took effect

Most cases of abortion in Indiana banned under new restrictions after Roe v. Wade overturned

ByRob Elgas and Maher Kawash via WLS logo
Friday, September 23, 2022 3:41AM
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The Indiana abortion ban has been blocked by a judge a week after it took effect.

INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- A controversial ruling Thursday put Indiana's new abortion law on hold.

But even with that, the Planned Parenthood in Hammond, Indiana, is still not taking patients in as providers across the state consider the risk of legal ramifications down the road if this ruling is overturned soon.

An Indiana judge has reopened abortion access across the state, blocking the state's new abortion ban just one week after it went into place. The judge agreed with abortion clinic operators who argued that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure.

The judge wrote "there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution" and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit.

The ban was approved by the state's Republican-dominated legislature on Aug. 5 and signed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. That made Indiana the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

SEE MORE: Indiana anti-abortion law takes effect Thursday, banning most cases with limited exceptions

"I am really, really excited that Indiana has stepped up in this way," said Dr. Katie McHugh, an OB-GYN and abortion provider. "Personally, it means that I am not a criminal for providing compassionate and evidence-based medical care. It also means that I am able to share in that feeling of being a full citizen."

"If you get raped, you have to have the child. Who would want to have a child that's raped ... You've been raped, you still have to have this baby. I think that's wrong," said Cleveland, an Indiana resident.

Others are uneasy about the thought of abortions being legal across Indiana.

"The Indiana constitution clearly upholds the right to life for Hoosiers," said Melanie Garcia Lyon, executive director of Voices for Life. "We're really focused on a door-to-door outreach that we're coordinating in South Bend, Indiana. We have a team out right as we speak, both starting productive conversations with people about the injustice of abortion and sharing local resources."

"I don't think that's good for the simple fact, a person doing a child like that, taking a child's life. I disagree with that," said Indiana resident Antwon.

Pro-life organizations are surprised by the ruling because of Indiana's long history of prohibiting abortions within its constitution. Legal counsel with the pro-life Thomas More Society believes the ruling will be quickly overturned.

"She took the same constitution where abortion was illegal and said no, this provision from 1851 actually gives you a full abortion right today, and so that doesn't have any support in the plain reading of the law or in the history of state of Indiana, so that's why we think it's gonna be overturned very quickly on appeal," said Peter Breen, senior counsel for Thomas More Society.

In a statement, anti-abortion group Indiana Right to Life said, "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."

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and several other pro-abortion groups said in a statement, "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."

The ACLU of Indiana was not available for an interview Thursday but celebrated the ruling in a statement, saying: "We are grateful that the court granted much needed relief for patients, clients, and providers but this fight is far from over."

The Indiana attorney general agrees that this fight is far from over, saying there are plans to immediately appeal the ruling and "fight for the lives of the unborn."

The Associated Press contributed to this post.