Federal judge refuses to block Indiana Planned Parenthood cuts

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] on Wednesday denied a request from Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) [advocacy website] for an injunction and temporary restraining order to prevent Indiana from implementing a law cutting state funding for abortion [JURIST news archive] services. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels [official profile] signed the bill into law Tuesday in order to save $3 million in public funds used for services such as birth control, cancer screening and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], together with PPIN, sought to maintain state funding while they pursued a suit challenging the law, but Judge Tanya Walton Pratt denied [AP report] their request. PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum criticized the ruling [press release]:

We are deeply disappointed that the judge decided not to stop this unconscionable law from impacting Hoosiers seeking preventive, reproductive health care. ... The ruling means that Hoosiers who rely on federal funding have lost access to their crucial and lifesaving preventive health care at Planned Parenthood of Indiana. ... [We] will continue to fight on behalf of thousands of patients at our 28 health centers around the state who count on PPIN for health care.
Ken Falk, Legal Director for the ACLU of Indiana, said [press release], "[f]amily planning dollars fund preventive health services that are critical to low-income and vulnerable women and their families... It is unlawful, unnecessary and cruel to deny these populations health services that they desperately need."

Tuesday's bill was approved [JURIST report] last month by the Indiana House of Representatives [official website] banning abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy, citing the possibility that after that point the fetus may be able to feel pain. Under HB 1210 [text, PDF], a physician must "[d]etermine in accordance with accepted medical standards the post-fertilization age of the fetus and which trimester the pregnant woman receiving the abortion is in [and] determine whether the fetus is viable" prior to performing an abortion. If the fetus is determined to be beyond the 20 week fertilization period, the abortion is banned. The bill makes the performance of an abortion beyond 20 weeks a criminal act with the limited exception of a procedure deemed necessary to save the life of the mother. The House also passed legislation [HB 1127 materials] mandating that an ultrasound be performed, and that the resulting image be viewed by the pregnant woman, before she can seek an abortion.

 

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