Abortion Courts Health Reproductive Rights

Federal Judge Blocks Several Indiana Abortion Restrictions

On Tuesday, a federal judge issued permanent injunctions against several Indiana laws that restrict abortion access, ruling them unconstitutional.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana blocked a number of Indiana abortion laws that had been challenged in court by a 2018 lawsuit brought by Whole Women’s Health Alliance.

Of the laws challenged by the lawsuit, Judge Barker ruled unconstitutional Indiana’s ban on using telemedicine in abortion care. She explained that the state did not have the right to regulate the use of telemedicine consultations between people seeking medication abortions and physicians since there was no evidence that banning telemedicine visits in such circumstances would benefit people’s health, especially since telemedicine can improve accessibility.

“The State’s attempt to explain its basis for excluding the far-reaching benefits of telemedicine from this category of patients is feeble at best, especially given the widespread use of telemedicine throughout Indiana as well as the overall safety of medication abortions,” Judge Barker wrote in her ruling.

In addition to the telemedicine ban, Judge Barker permanently blocked Indiana’s law that doctors must hold an in-person examination of a patient before they can receive a medication abortion. She also blocked a requirement that only doctors can administer a medication abortion during the first trimester, as well as a ban on second-trimester abortions administered anywhere other than a hospital or surgery center.

Indiana’s law dictating that doctors must tell patients seeking an abortion that a fetus could feel pain before 20 weeks and that life begins when an egg is fertilized was ruled unconstitutional as well, given that this information was found to be untruthful and misleading.

“This is a tremendous victory for abortion rights—just when Hoosiers and this entire country need it most,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women’s Health Alliance.

Sources: AP News 8/11/21; IndyStar 8/10/21; U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana 8/10/21; Forbes 8/10/21

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