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A Federal Judge Blocked A Law Banning Some Abortions In Indiana

The law, which would have come into effect Friday, bans abortions sought when a fetus shows genetic abnormalities.

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A federal judge on Thursday blocked an Indiana law that bans abortions sought because of a fetal genetic abnormality.

The law, which would have become effective Friday, bans abortions "sought solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with, or has a potential diagnosis of, Down syndrome or any other disability."

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood in Indiana and Kentucky, which in an April lawsuit filed with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argued that several provisions of the law were unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood contended that the law's provisions, "clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent in that they prohibit women from obtaining an abortion prior to fetal viability" thereby violating a woman's privacy rights.

North Dakota is the only other state with a law that bans abortions sought because of fetal genetic abnormalities or because of the race, color, national origin, or ancestry of the fetus.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the HEA 1337 bill into law in March, prompting strong opposition and protests from pro-choice advocates. "I respect the feelings of every Hoosier on this issue but I’m pro life and I stand by my decision to sign this legislation,” Pence said in response to protests at the time.

The state argued that there was an increase in the number of abortions due to technological advances leading to earlier and more accurate information on whether a fetus was potentially diagnosed with Down Syndrome or other disabilities and that the law's provisions would go further in "protecting potential life from discrimination."

Pratt said that the law's provisions went against the Supreme Court's rulings, which declared that states cannot prohibit women from choosing to have an abortion before fetus viability. She also wrote that Indiana had failed to cite a single case where a court recognized an exception to the Supreme Court's "categorical rule."

"This is unsurprising given that it is a woman’s right to choose an abortion that is protected, which, of course, leaves no room for the State to examine the basis or bases upon which a woman makes her choice," Pratt wrote in her ruling.

Planned Parenthood had also challenged the law's provision that an aborted or miscarried fetus must be buried or cremated. Pratt's ruling also blocked this provision saying, "the State’s asserted interest in treating fetal remains with the dignity of human remains is not legitimate given that the law does not recognize a fetus as a person."


Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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