Indianapolis – The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed a lawsuit today against the Indiana State Department of Health, prosecutors of several counties and the state medical licensing board asking the Court to block enforcement of a new law that imposes unconstitutional restrictions on women seeking abortions and their health care providers. The ACLU of Indiana and PPINK claim the law violates due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment as well as First Amendment rights of free speech.
ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said, “The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed that a woman, not the state, is to determine whether or not to obtain an abortion. The State of Indiana’s attempt to invade a woman’s privacy and to control her decision in this regard is unprecedented and unconstitutional.”
Recently enacted Indiana House Enrolled Act 1337, signed into law by Governor Pence on March 24 and effective July 1, imposes unprecedented restrictions on abortion. Recalling a time before the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to abortion, the Enrolled Act bars a woman from getting an abortion based on her reason. Specifically, it prohibits abortions if the sole reason for the abortion is the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or diagnosis of a statutorily-defined “disability” or “potential diagnosis” of a “disability.”
Racial justice, gender equality, and disability rights advocates have opposed legislative proposals like the Indiana law. They point out that if politicians were serious about addressing inequities based on race, gender or disability status, they could expand access to high quality healthcare, education, and employment opportunities.
The new law requires that women must be informed of this prohibition as part of Indiana’s state-mandated so-called “informed consent” process. Compelling health care providers to inform women about an unconstitutional law violates the First Amendment.
“The ACLU stands firmly against discrimination in all forms, but that isn’t what this law is about,” said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. “Unnecessary restrictions, like those recently signed into law, demean women and threaten the quality of their health care. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to work to ensure that every woman can make the best decision for herself and her family about whether and when to continue a pregnancy without undue political interference.”
“This law is clearly another attempt by the governor to end access to safe, legal abortions by imposing more unnecessary and unconstitutional restrictions on women, our health care centers and our staff,” said Betty Cockrum, CEO and President of PPINK. “The law limits women’s rights and shames them during this difficult decision by calling their motives into question.”
The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, et al., v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, Prosecutors of Marion, Lake, Monroe, and Tippecanoe Counties; Individual Members of the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, Case No. 1:16-cv-00763-TWP-DML, was filed on Thurs. April 7, 2016 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Attorneys on the case include Kenneth J. Falk, Gavin M. Rose and Jan P. Mensz, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; Helene Kransoff, Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Jennifer Dalven, American Civil Liberties Union.
A copy of the complaint can be found here: