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Federal appeals court rules Indiana abortion law unconstitutional

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Thursday ruled that Indiana's recent abortion law, House Enrolled Act No. 1337 [text], is unconstitutional [opinion, PDF].

The law was enacted on March 24, 2016, and was challenged in court by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky [advocacy website]. The law prevents women from having an abortion if it is known that the woman is doing so because of the sex of the child, diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability, or because of the race, color, national origin, or ancestry of the fetus. It also requires that women be provided these restrictions prior to the abortion and puts restrictions on the disposition of the aborted fetus.

The court found that these restrictions on abortion are an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment right to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability. Because the restriction was ruled to be unconstitutional, the requirement to notify the woman of the restriction was also ruled to be unconstitutional. The fetal disposition requirements were found to violate the Due Process clause of the Constitution because it was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.

Judge Manion, in a separate opinion, concurred regarding the abortion restrictions, but also called upon the Supreme Court to overturn Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and Roe v. Wade to allow states to place limits on abortion. Manion also dissented regarding the fetal remains provision, stating that the provision is within the state's police powers.

Several states have recently passed bills which place restrictions on abortions. The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] earlier this month that would ban abortions after 20 weeks following fertilization. Kentucky's House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] in March that would ban abortions after 11 weeks. A federal judge in Mississippi blocked a Mississippi bill [JURIST report] in March that would restrict abortions after 15 weeks.

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