INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A federal judge has blocked an Indiana mandate forcing women to undergo an
ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion, ruling that the
requirement is likely unconstitutional and creates “clearly undue” burdens
on women, particularly low-income women.
U.S. District Judge
Tanya Walton Pratt’s ruling, issued Friday, grants a preliminary injunction
temporarily blocking the ultrasound waiting period. Planned Parenthood of
Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana had
sued the state last July, contending the mandate was unconstitutional and
would prevent some women from getting abortions.
Pratt’s ruling said
the waiting period “creates significant financial and other burdens” on
Planned Parenthood and its patients, particularly low-income women who face
lengthy travel to one of only six Planned Parenthood health centers that can
offer an informed-consent ultrasound appointment.
The judge, who
heard arguments in the case in November, found that Indiana provided no
compelling evidence that requiring an ultrasound at least the day before an
abortion, rather than on the same day, “makes it any more likely that a
woman will choose not to have an abortion.”
“Given the lack of
evidence that the new ultrasound law has the benefits asserted by the State,
the law likely creates an undue burden on women’s constitutional rights,”
that women undergo ultrasounds at least 18 hours before having an abortion
had replaced a previous Indiana provision that required women to get an
ultrasound before having an abortion but did not specify when that had to
said in its lawsuit that under the earlier measure the group performed
ultrasounds on women immediately prior to their abortions.
mandate is part of a wide-ranging abortion restrictions law that took effect
July 1, 2016, a day after Pratt blocked the law’s provision that would have
banned abortions sought because of a fetus’ genetic abnormalities, such as
Down syndrome. The judge also blocked a provision requiring that aborted
fetuses be buried or cremated.
Mike Pence, who is now vice president, signed the legislation into law in
Ali Slocum, a
spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said the group
had no immediate comment on Pratt’s ruling ahead of a Monday afternoon news
conference the group will hold with the ACLU of Indiana.
Attorney General’s office was preparing a statement on the ruling, said
spokesman Corey Elliot.