INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge permanently struck down provisions of an Indiana law passed last year that would have banned abortions sought due to fetal genetic abnormalities and required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's decision, issued Friday, found that those two provisions and a third one are unconstitutional. She granted an order permanently blocking all three from being enforced and granted summary judgment in favor of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which had sued the state in April 2016 after then-Gov. Mike Pence signed the provisions into law.
The three restrictions violate women's due process rights under the Constitution and conflict with rulings by numerous courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding a woman's right to seek an abortion before a fetus could viably survive outside the womb, Pratt wrote in her ruling.
"The challenged anti-discrimination provisions directly contravene well-established law that precludes a state from prohibiting a woman from electing to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability," the judge wrote.
Pratt's order makes permanent her preliminary order issued in June 2016 — a day before the law was set to take effect — that temporarily blocked the provisions from being enforced.
Indiana is now permanently barred from enforcing a restriction that would have banned abortions sought because of a fetus' genetic abnormalities, race, gender or ancestry. Pratt's order also permanently blocks a requirement that abortion providers tell women that Indiana prohibits such abortions, and another provision that would have required that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.
As for the fetal disposal provision, Pratt wrote that she could find no legal basis for Indiana to require health care providers "to treat fetal remains in the same manner as human remains."
"Stated otherwise, if the law does not recognize a fetus as a person, there can be no legitimate state interest in requiring an entity to treat an aborted fetus the same as a deceased human," she wrote.
Indiana's then-Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, did not appeal Pratt's June 2016 order temporarily blocking the provisions.
Current Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said Monday that he's disappointed by Friday's ruling and plans to appeal the order to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
Hill said in a statement that the ruling clears "the path for genetic discrimination that once seemed like science fiction." He added that the law's fetal disposal provision "is hardly an impingement of anyone's individual rights."
Christie Gillespie, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, praised Pratt's ruling and said the group was confident the judge would find that the restrictions violate the Constitution.
"There is no medical basis for these restrictions. This is just another example of politicians coming between physicians and patients," she said.