INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked portions of a new Indiana law that
would make it tougher for girls under age 18 to get an abortion without
their parents’ knowledge.
U.S. District Judge
Sarah Evans Barker wrote in approving a temporary injunction that “when it
comes to our children, while parents or others entrusted with their care and
well-being have the lawful and moral obligation always to act in their best
interests, children are not bereft of separate identities, interests, and
of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana
sued the state on May 18 seeking to prevent three provisions from taking
effect on July 1 and arguing that they create “an unconstitutional undue
burden on unemancipated minors.” Barker approved injunctions blocking all
One provision of
the law would require a judge in most cases to allow parents to be informed
that their daughter is seeking an abortion.
Barker, who was
nominated to the federal court by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, had
expressed skepticism about some of the law’s provisions during June 13
arguments on the injunction.
contends those portions violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process and
equal protection provisions, and the First Amendment.
Attorneys for the
state argued in their brief opposing the injunction that each provision the
suit challenges is constitutionally permissible. They also argued that they
in part further the state’s interest “in protecting pregnant minors” and
encouraging parental involvement in their minor children’s decision to have
Gov. Eric Holcomb,
who signed the law April 25, has called the measure a “parental rights
argued that one of the new law’s provisions revises Indiana’s parental
consent process in a way that violates minor girls’ due process rights.
Under existing Indiana law, girls younger than 18 must either get their
parents’ consent to have an abortion or seek permission from a judge through
the so-called “judicial bypass” process. The girl’s parents are not notified
of her bid for an abortion, regardless of whether that judge approves or
denies her request, under current law.
But the new law
would require the judge considering that request to also weigh whether the
girl’s parents should receive notification of her pregnancy and her efforts
to obtain an abortion, regardless of the decision on the abortion itself. It
requires that the parents be notified unless the judge determines it would
not be in the minor’s best interest for the parents to know - even if the
court finds the minor is mature enough to make a decision independently on
whether to have an abortion.
Betty Cockrum, the
CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said when
the lawsuit was filed in May that portions of the new law “will have a
chilling effect on teenagers already dealing with a difficult situation.”
The suit also
challenges a new provision that adds a procedure physicians must follow to
verify the “identity and relationship” between the minor seeking an abortion
and parent or adult providing consent. The suit calls that a vague
requirement which subjects physicians to criminal liability and violates the
Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses.
It also challenges
a new provision that prevents anyone from aiding an unemancipated minor who
is seeking an abortion. The suit says that violates the First Amendment
because it will prohibit Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky from
advising those minors “that they can travel to other states to obtain their
The suit contends
the new law “fails to comply with requirements necessary for a parental
involvement statute to pass constitutional muster.”
During 2015, 25
girls between the ages of 10 and 14 received abortions in Indiana, and
another 219 girls between 15 and 17 also ended their pregnancies, according
to a report from the Indiana State Department of Health.
Planned Parenthood declined to comment on Barker’s ruling Wednesday, saying
a joint news conference with the ACLU was scheduled for Thursday.