Granting a request by the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP), the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last Thursday suspended an Indiana law mandating in-clinic counseling for women seeking abortions. The CRLP is expected to appeal the law to the Supreme Court by December 16. The suspension will remain in effect until the high court decides whether it will hear the case.
The law created in 1995 but struck down via an injunction issued last year by US District Court Judge David Hamilton requires patient counseling with a medical professional 18 hours prior to a scheduled abortion. In September, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the lower court’s decision, affirming the law’s constitutionality.
Opponents to the law argue that shifting the mandate from telephone to in-person counseling is unduly burdensome, particularly for women living in rural areas where access to clinics is already difficult. Additionally, because there is only one clinic in Indiana that performs abortions beyond the first trimester, women seeking second-trimester abortions are also disadvantaged. As dissenting Judge Diane Wood argued in September, “Legislative history of the Indiana statute reveals no reason whatsoever for imposing a two-visit requirement for the dissemination of the required information.”
According to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, 22 states mandate waiting periods for abortions. Mississippi, Louisiana, Utah, and Wyoming require in-person counseling within the 24-hour delay.