INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Planned Parenthood has decided to drop its federal lawsuit challenging an
Indiana law that will require women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18
hours before having an abortion.
The law was passed
in 2016 by the Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Mike
Pence, but had been blocked since a federal judge’s ruling in 2017.
ruling was upheld by a federal appeals court, the U.S. Supreme Court in July
sent the Indiana lawsuit back to the appeals court for a fresh review
following a decision in a Louisiana case that abortion rights advocates
worried signaled a greater willingness by the justices to uphold state
Lawyers for Planned
Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the state said in a Wednesday court
filing they agreed the injunction blocking the law should end on Jan. 1,
citing “events” over the past three years and the addition of a new
ultrasound machine at Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Fort Wayne.
The two sides asked
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt to then dismiss the lawsuit.
Attorney General Curtis Hill on Thursday described the agreement as a
victory and said “Planned Parenthood has conceded defeat.”
Hill said the date
for ending the injunction was set to give Planned Parenthood time to train
staff members at its Fort Wayne clinic to operate ultrasound equipment.
makes clear that if anything threatened women’s ability to obtain abortions,
it was Planned Parenthood’s own business decisions, not the challenged law -
an argument that the State made all along,” the attorney general’s office
said in a statement.
rights supporters praised Chief Justice John Roberts vote in the Supreme
Court’s 5-4 decision for striking down Louisiana’s requirement that abortion
providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, they also worried
that language in his opinion could be used to justify other abortion
Parenthood nor the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which
represented Planned Parenthood in the lawsuit, commented on any effect that
ruling might have had on their decision to end the court challenge.
CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement that
the group decided to drop its lawsuit after determining it could comply with
what she called a “medically unnecessary law” without providing fewer
“To be clear, the
18-hour ultrasound requirement has nothing to do with patient safety, and is
only meant to add another barrier in accessing abortion care,” Charbonneau
argued that the state law was unconstitutional and would prevent some women
from getting abortions.
Pratt ruled that
the 18-hour waiting period “creates significant financial and other burdens”
on Planned Parenthood and its patients, particularly low-income women who
face lengthy travel to clinics with the ultrasound equipment. The judge
found that Indiana had presented “no compelling evidence” to support its
contention that the requirement would further its stated interest of
convincing women not to have an abortion.
abortion restrictions adopted by Indiana lawmakers have been blocked by
court challenges in recent years.
A federal judge
last month struck down a law that aimed to require reports from medical
providers to the state if they treat women for complications arising from
That came after
another judge last year blocked the state’s ban on a second-trimester
abortion procedure that the legislation called “dismemberment abortion.”
The U.S. Supreme
Court last year also rejected Indiana’s appeal of a lower court ruling that
blocked the state’s ban on abortion based on gender, race or disability.
However, it upheld a portion of the 2016 law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence
requiring the burial or cremation of fetal remains after an abortion.
Hill made his
support for tough anti-abortion laws a key part of his reelection campaign,
but he lost his bid for the Republican attorney general nomination in July
following a monthlong suspension of his law license over allegations that he
groped a state lawmaker and three other women during a 2018 party.