ACLU, Planned Parenthood Challenge New Ultrasound Requirements

Affiliate: ACLU of Indiana
July 7, 2016 10:45 am

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Indianapolis – New ultrasound requirements passed into law on July 1 are being challenged today in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, national ACLU and national Planned Parenthood on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. The new restrictions, for which there is no medical justification, create an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

As of July 1, Indiana Code § 16-34-2-1.1(a)(5) imposes a new requirement on women in Indiana seeking an abortion: that an ultrasound be obtained 18 hours in advance of the procedure and at the same time a woman receives other mandatory information also required by law. The new 18 hour requirement changed prior law that allowed the ultrasound to occur when the woman obtained an abortion. The new law will force many women to make two potentially lengthy and burdensome trips to specific PPINK health centers that provide surgical or medication abortion instead of going to a clinic in their community. There are only four such centers in the state.

“The requirement that women obtain an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion, as opposed to allowing PPINK to continue its practice of providing one immediately prior to the abortion, provides no health benefit to women and serves only to place a substantial obstacle to obtaining an abortion,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. “This law, therefore, is an unconstitutional undue burden on abortion access.”

Last week a federal judge granted Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction, blocking other key features of an anti-abortion measure that would have gone into effect July 1 and would have imposed unprecedented, unconstitutional restrictions on women seeking abortions and their health care providers.

“Last week, the Supreme Court made perfectly clear that restrictions that serve no purpose except to put obstacles in the path of a woman trying to end a pregnancy cannot stand,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project with the ACLU. “Make no mistake about it, this Indiana law is just another example of an unnecessary restriction that is blatantly unconstitutional.”

“Ultrasounds are an essential part of our medical practice,” said Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of PPINK. “We wish Indiana’s politicians would leave the practice of medicine to doctors and health care providers rather than interfering yet again. The 18-hour requirement is unduly burdensome and adds no value in a state already fraught with difficult and unnecessary regulations regarding a truly safe and legal procedure.”

The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health; Prosecutors of Marion, Lake, Monroe and Tippecanoe Counties, Case 1:16-cv-1807-TWP-DML, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on July 7, 2016. Attorneys on the case include Kenneth J. Falk, Gavin M. Rose and Jan P. Mensz, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; Jennifer Sandman Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Jennifer Dalven, American Civil Liberties Union.

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