Planned Parenthood sues Indiana for abortion law

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2016 12:24 PM

By Justin Madden

(Reuters) - Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state of Indiana, saying a new state law restricting abortion was unconstitutional.

The law, which was signed last month by Indiana Governor Mike Pence and goes into effect on July 1, prohibits abortion in the early stages of a pregnancy based on genetic abnormalities and mandates a fetus be buried or cremated, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Planned Parenthood asked for an injunction on the law, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the nonprofit organization's Indiana chapter.

“The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed that a woman, not the state, is to determine whether or not to obtain an abortion," Ken Falk, legal director for ACLU of Indiana, said in a statement. "The state of Indiana’s attempt to invade a woman’s privacy and to control her decision in this regard is unprecedented and unconstitutional."

The lawsuit named the Indiana State Department of Health, prosecutors of several counties and the state medical licensing board.

A spokeswoman for the health department referred all questions to the attorney general's office, where no one could be reached for comment. A spokesman for the medical licensing board declined to comment about the lawsuit.

Pence's press secretary, Kara Brooks, said the governor is confident the law is constitutional. "We will work with the attorney general to defend the law that enhances information expectant mothers receive and enhances protection for the unborn," she said.

Indiana was the second U.S. state to prohibit abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of disabilities such as Down syndrome, following North Dakota.

Planned Parenthood does not ask patients to disclose why they are obtaining an abortion, but under the new law, doctors would be mandated to report if a fetal anomaly was present before the abortion.

The new Indiana law would put physicians at risk for legal woes, and require additional costs for a fetus to be buried or cremated, according to the lawsuit.

"Gov. Mike Pence isn’t a woman and he isn’t a doctor. He needs to get out and stay out of our doctors’ offices," Betty Cockrum, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Bill Trott, Ben Klayman and Marguerita Choy)