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Indiana Superior Court Temporarily Blocks In-Person Abortion Counseling Law

Superior Court Judge David Dreyer issued a temporary restraining order Monday, once again blocking Indiana’s highly contested in-person abortion counseling law. Coming on the heels of the US Supreme Court’s refusal last month to hear the case, Dreyer’s order will be effective for 10 days until March 11, when a hearing is expected for a preliminary injunction to block the law until the trial court decides the case, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

The law–created in 1995 but struck down in 2001 via an injunction issued by US District Court Judge David Hamilton–requires patient counseling with a medical professional 18 hours prior to a scheduled abortion. In September 2002, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the lower court’s decision and upheld the law’s constitutionality. By November, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals–granting a request by the CRR–suspended the law again until the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

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 CRR, 23 states mandate waiting periods for abortions. Mississippi, Louisiana, Utah, and Wisconsin require in-person counseling within the 24-hour delay.

Sources:

Kaisernetwork.org 2/25/03, 3/5/03; CRR 2/03, 3/3/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

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