NewsPublic Affairs / February 16, 2018

Federal Court Hears Appeal Of Decision On 2016 Ind. Abortion Law

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A federal court heard an appeal of a judge’s decision to strike down key parts of a 2016 Indiana abortion law Thursday.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on several controversial provisions of the law. The State Department of Health brought the appeal against Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

Federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt permanently struck down portions of the law in September of last year. One of those measures included a ban on abortions performed because of a fetus’s characteristics, like race, gender, or disability.

The appeal also addressed a requirement in the law that medical facilities must bury or cremate all aborted or miscarried fetal remains.

At the time, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill indicated he would appeal the judge’s decision.

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher represented the state. He says previous legal rulings say women have the right to choose whether to have a child, but not the right to discriminate.

“When you get into this area where it’s based on the characteristics of the child and not the choice that, ‘I don’t want to have a child, but I don’t want to have this child,’ that’s where we think the state’s interest arises,” he says.

Ken Falk is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. He argued on the side of Planned Parenthood. He says previous Supreme Court rulings ensure the choice to abort a fetus is solely up to the woman.

“We are talking about an absolute prohibition, and the binary choice theory has no place here. The woman has an absolute right as part of her privacy interests,” he says.

A separate appeal of a judge’s decision to strike down another provision of the law, one that would require a woman to get an ultrasound eighteen hours before an abortion, is also being heard in federal court.

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