Pharos-Tribune

Local News

March 7, 2013

ACLU vows to challenge Indiana abortion bill

INDIANAPOLIS — A controversial bill that imposes new state requirements on clinics that offer the abortion pill is likely headed for a constitutional challenge if passed and signed into law, as expected.

Opponents of the bill say it would force women seeking the abortion pill to undergo an invasive procedure known as a transvaginal ultrasound and would impose other restrictions that have been struck down by the federal courts.

Ken Falk, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said the legislation will be challenged in court “as soon as it’s signed into law by the governor.”

If so, it would be the second abortion-related bill passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly over the last two years to be challenged in court.

Last November, a federal appeals court barred Indiana from enforcing a 2011 state law that would have stripped Medicaid funding from any healthcare provider that offered abortion services.

Falk brought that 2011 case against the state on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, which stood to lose funding for all healthcare services it provides because it also offers abortion services.

The current legislation, Senate Bill 371, which passed out of the Senate last week on a 33-16 vote, covers clinics that dispense an abortion-inducing drug, RU 486, which can only be used during the early weeks of pregnancy.

Women who receive the drug at the clinic would be required to have ultrasound.  The bill doesn’t specify what type of ultrasound must be done. The bill’s author, Republican Sen. Travis Holdman, said he’s had several physicians tell him that a less invasive, abdominal ultrasound can be performed.

But Falk points to the testimony of several medical experts, including Dr. John Stutsman, an Indiana University School of Medicine professor and obstetrician-gynecologist, who told legislators that the bill would essentially force women seeking the procedure to undergo an invasive transvaginal procedure because the abortion pill is given early on in pregnancy, when the embryo or fetus is too small to be detected by an abdominal ultrasound.

In a transvaginal ultrasound, a several-inch long probe is inserted through the birth canal into a woman’s uterus. Falk described it a “grossly invasive procedure” that violates the standards that U.S.  Supreme Court has set for how states can limit access to legal abortions.

The ultrasound issue is playing out in the courts. Several states now require women who have an abortion to have an ultrasound.

But in two states, North Carolina and Oklahoma, the mandatory ultrasound laws have been challenged in court. A federal court struck down the Oklahoma law, which would have required transvaginal ultrasounds in some cases, as “blatantly” unconstitutional. North Carolina’s law is on hold, after a federal court issued a temporary injunction. But a federal appeals court has decided to let Texas’ mandatory ultrasound law remain on the books.

Last year, the Virginia legislature considered a bill that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds for women having abortions, but pulled back after the state’s conservative Republican governor questioned whether the law was constitutional.

“The courts are split on the issue of mandating ultrasounds,” said Stephanie Toti, senior staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

State Rep. Sharon Negele, a freshman Republican from Attica who’s sponsoring the bill in the House, said “it’s premature” to be talking about the whether the bill is constitutional. “It’s still in the process,” Negele said. “We still have to debate in the House.”

But Falk’s concerns about the constitutionality of the bill in its current form are significant because of his track record: As head lawyer for the ACLU in Indiana, he’s successfully challenged a string of state laws that were popular were legislators but posed constitutional issues.

They include legislation that would have allowed police to stop and arrest people they suspected were illegal immigrants and a law that prohibited registered sex offenders from using social networking sites such as Facebook.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Police Blotter: July 31, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    July 31, 2014

  • NWS-PT073114 Hopper2.jpg The right track: Logansport boy advocates railroad crossing safety

    It's not uncommon to see 12-year-old Ethan Hopper sitting in a lawn chair near his father's business on 18th Street in Logansport, his cell phone pointed at a locomotive heading down the nearby tracks. The engines make up a fascination modern technol

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos 1 Link

  • Cass Co. Community Foundation eligible for grant

    The Cass County Community Foundation is eligible to receive half a million dollars from Lilly Endowment Inc. as a matching grant at some point over the course of the next couple of years.Lilly Endowment announced the sixth phase of its Giving Indiana

    July 31, 2014

  • Locals: EPA delay request too late Logansport officials say while they appreciate a state executive’s request to delay new rules on coal power plants, its timing still requires pursuing a new power plant for the city.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published last month its Cl

    July 31, 2014

  • Supreme Court observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking of next chief INDIANAPOLIS — State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure in the leadership post.Another surprise may be in store when his replacement is named.A seven-member panel of

    July 31, 2014

  • Police Blotter: July 30, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    July 30, 2014

  • Pence pushing Medicaid alternative during DC trip INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is heading to Washington to seek federal approval of his proposed state-run alternative to traditional Medicaid in order to expand health care coverage for low-income residents. The governor's office says P

    July 30, 2014

  • Area could see higher healthcare premiums Individual premiums for healthcare under the Patents Protection and Affordable Care Act could go up in counties with poorer health, according to a Ball State University study.The study said counties with poor health, specifically high diabetes incide

    July 30, 2014

  • NWS-PT072914 Voting2.jpg Round 2: Deadlines approach to file for November election Openings are filling up as deadlines to file approach to run for local town councils and school boards.Up for election this fall are town council seats in Royal Center’s districts No. 2, 3 and at large and at large in Walton as well. The filing deadl

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-PT073014 Hickman.jpg Two arrested in purse-, wallet-snatching spree

    MONTICELLO — Two were arrested late last week in relation to a string of purse and wallet thefts from shopping carts in local department stores. Lindsey R. Hogg, 22, Monticello, and Rachel D. Hickman, 23, Burnettsville, were arrested by the Lafayette

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should the U.S. impose a travel ban on three West African nations in response to a growing Ebola virus outbreak?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
eEdition