Indiana Judge Nixes Bill That Would Have Restricted Abortions Due to Genetic Abnormalities

In another win for pro-choice activists this week, a federal judge Thursday blocked an Indiana law that banned abortions for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy because of a fetus’ genetic abnormalities, insisting the state lacks the authority to regulate a woman’s reasoning for obtaining an abortion.

In the ruling, District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sided with Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, granting a preliminary injunction against the law, set to go into effect Friday. Planned Parenthood argued the law violated a woman’s right to privacy.

In granting the temporary injunction, Pratt wrote a woman’s right to choose is a protected constitutional right, “which, of course, leaves no room for the state to examine the basis or bases upon which a woman makes her choice.”

The Indiana bill was signed into law in March by Republican Governor Mike Pence. During the trial, Indiana’s Solicitor General Thomas Fisher had argued the state has an inherent interest in “preventing discrimination” against fetuses based on prenatal DNA testing. But on Thursday, the judge rejected that argument. She also rejected a separate provision that would have required aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky CEO Betty Cockrum applauded the rulling, adding Indiana women “get to celebrate [their] freedoms.”

“We hear a lot from both the executive and legislative branches in the statehouse of Indiana about those precious freedoms and how they need to be protected,” Cockrum said. “Never as a woman in Indiana do I feel that they’re talking about me. Today they’re talking about me, they’re talking about the 51 percent of the population that is female.”

But not everyone shared Cockrum’s enthusiasm. In a statement, Gov. Pence’s spokesperson Kara Brooks said the governor "remains steadfast in his support for the unborn, especially those with disabilities.”

"The governor will continue to stand for the sanctity of human life in all stages, for the compassionate and safe treatment of women faced with an enormously difficult decision, and for the rights of citizens to determine appropriate medical safety standards and procedures through their elected representatives," she added.

Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter echoed Pence's sentiment. "Today a federal judge denied the civil rights of unborn children, then proceeded to equate aborted children to common medical waste by blocking dignified disposal," Fitcher said. "This ruling is an appalling human rights injustice."


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