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Court Says Indiana Ban on Selective Abortions Is Unconstitutional

(Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Indiana’s ban on abortions based on the gender, race, or disability of the unborn child is unconstitutional.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a district court ruling that found the law places an “undue burden” on a woman seeking an abortion.

“The non-discrimination provisions clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent holding that a woman may terminate her pregnancy prior to viability, and that the State may not prohibit a woman from exercising that right for any reason,” Judge William J. Bauer wrote on Thursday. “It is entirely inconsistent to hold that a woman’s right of privacy to terminate a pregnancy exists if a woman decides before she becomes pregnant that she does not want to bear a child, but that the State can eliminate this privacy right if a woman later decides she wants to terminate her pregnancy for a particular purpose.”

The measure was signed into law by then-governor Mike Pence in March 2016. In addition to banning “selective” abortions, it also required women to receive an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion, as opposed to immediately before. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky had sued the state to block the law’s implementation, claiming it imposes “substantial obstacles” to women seeking abortions.

The mandate is “unduly burdensome and adds no value in a state already fraught with difficult and unnecessary regulations regarding a truly safe and legal procedure,” said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. Planned Parenthood also argued in court that the cost of installing ultrasound equipment and training technicians at every one of its Indiana locations would be prohibitive.

A Republican-led push in several states has resulted in bills that would ban abortions sought simply because the baby has Down syndrome. Several measures have gone even further, including an Ohio proposal that would ban abortion altogether statewide. Pro-life advocates and some Republican congressmen hope the lawsuits sparked by the bills will reach the Supreme Court and provide an opportunity to overturn the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade.

 

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