An Indiana judge on Thursday blocked enforcement of the state’s abortion ban, putting the new law on hold because clinic operators say it violates the state’s constitution.
Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban which went into effect a week ago. The injunction was sought by clinic operators who argued that the state constitution protects access to abortion.
The ban was approved by the Republican-held Indiana state legislature on August 5 and signed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb. It made Indiana the first state to enact tougher abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal protections by overturning Roe v Wade in June.
The judge wrote, “It is reasonably probable that this significant restriction on personal autonomy violates the freedom guarantees of the Indiana Constitution.”
Hanlon also said the clinics would prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending trial.
The state attorney general and Republican leaders did not immediately comment.
The ban, which includes limited exceptions, replaced laws that generally banned abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and strictly restricted them after the 13th week.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit Aug. 31, arguing that the ban would “ban the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as such, would have a devastating and irreparable impact on complainants and, more importantly, on their patients and clients”.
Ken Falk, the legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, pointed to the state’s bill of rights, including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” arguing before the judge Monday that it included a right to privacy and to make decisions about whether to have children.
The state attorney general’s office said the court should uphold the ban, saying the arguments against it were based on a “new, unwritten, and historically unsupported abortion right” in the state’s constitution. ‘State.
“The constitutional text nowhere mentions abortion, and Indiana has prohibited or heavily regulated abortion by law since 1835 – before, during, and after the Indiana constitution of 1851 was written. debated and ratified,” the office said.
The ban includes exceptions allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest before 10 weeks after fertilization, to protect the life and physical health of the mother and if a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal abnormality.
The law also prohibited abortion clinics from providing abortion care, leaving such services to be provided only by hospitals or hospital-owned outpatient surgical centers.
The lawsuit was filed in Monroe County, which includes the liberal city of Bloomington and Indiana University. Two Democratic-elect judges from that county declined to hear the case, without giving reasons.
Hanlon, a Republican from neighboring Owen County, agreed to be appointed as a special judge.