Lawsuit challenges new Indiana access restrictions on abortion pills

2013-08-22T18:15:00Z 2013-08-23T10:37:04Z Lawsuit challenges new Indiana access restrictions on abortion pillsDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
August 22, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday seeking to overturn a new Indiana law that regulates facilities providing abortion-inducing pills the same as surgical abortion clinics.

Senate Enrolled Act 371 requires nonsurgical abortion facilities have the same extra-wide hallways, hospital-quality scrub stations and surgical equipment as traditional abortion clinics, even though surgical abortions are not provided.

Under the law, a Lafayette facility operated by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky that provides abortion pills but not surgical abortions will have to stop Jan. 1 unless Planned Parenthood does extensive renovations or the law is halted.

"The additional restrictions in this new law are in no way related to patient safety," said Betty Cockrum, Planned Parenthood CEO. "This law is clearly part of a coordinated national effort to end access to safe, legal abortion by trying to shut down Planned Parenthood health care centers, which also provide Pap tests, breast and testicular exams, birth control and STD testing and treatment."

Ken Falk, legal director for the Indiana ACLU, said the targeting of Planned Parenthood by the Republican-controlled Legislature serves no legitimate purpose. The ACLU last month prevailed in a case challenging a 2011 Indiana law that illegally barred Medicaid recipients from obtaining nonabortion health services at Planned Parenthood.

"The laws irrationally and invidiously discriminate against (Planned Parenthood) and pose a significant and unnecessary burden that violates the Constitution's guarantees of privacy, due process and equal protection," Falk said.

The Lafayette facility provided abortion-inducing pills to 264 women in 2012, according to Indiana State Department of Health. Statewide, 20 percent of the 8,808 abortions last year were nonsurgical.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, a Republican, said he will defend the authority of the General Assembly to make public policy decisions.

"We look forward to respectfully asserting the state's case," he said.

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