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Indiana governor signs new abortion restrictions into law

[JURIST] Indiana Governor Mike Pence [official profile] signed a controversial bill [materials] on Thursday banning abortions motivated by concerns of the fetus' gender, race or potential disabilities. The bill also places restrictions on medical providers, requiring a thorough doctor consultation and certain admitting privileges before abortions can be performed. Furthermore, the bill bans fetal tissue donations and requires that fetal remains be cremated or buried. With this bill, Indiana became the second state [WP report], following North Dakota, to ban abortions performed upon a finding of a fetal anomaly. Pence defended the bill [press release] as a necessary move to place a greater value on human life and protect the disabled. However, state Democrats and abortion rights groups such as the Planned Parenthood Action Fund [advocacy website] accused [NYT report] the bill of being a conservative effort to effectively deny women's right to abortions in the state. Abortions rights advocates have stated that parts of the bill may be challenged in court.

Abortion procedures and reproductive rights issues [JURIST backgrounder] have been controversial topics throughout the US. Earlier this month a district court judge blocked [JURIST report] Arkansas from enforcing a bill mandating abortion pill providers to follow US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] guidelines and requiring hospital admittance privileges to handle complications. Also this month the West Virginia lawmakers overrode the governor's veto to enact a new law [JURIST report] that prevents the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, widely held to be the safest second-trimester abortion method. The South Dakota governor signed a bill [JURIST report] that bans abortions after 20 weeks. Last month the Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed [JURIST report] a lower court decision upholding a law that restricts use of medication abortion drugs. In November the US Supreme Court granted certiorari [JURIST report] to decide whether a Texas law, which requires that clinics have similar facilities to surgical center, posed an undue burden on the availability of abortion on the state. Oral arguments were heard earlier this month.

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