After Congress failed in March to pass the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act and defunded Planned Parenthood, the U.S. Senate last week voted to undo an Obama administration rule that made clear it is against the law for states to block people from accessing care at a health center because the organization also provides safe, legal abortion.
U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs wrote in a memo to attorneys earlier this week that he has chose to grant a preliminary injunction to Planned Parenthood on two issues at the center of the case - requiring doctors performing abortions to have hospital affiliations and abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards.
The legislation "creates significant financial and other burdens" on Planned Parenthood and patients - "particularly for low-income women who face lengthy travel" to one of only six of the nonprofit group's health centers able to fulfill the ultrasound requirement, ruled U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in a decision Friday.
In an interview this afternoon, Cockrum said the requirement would be particularly challenging for the patients served by Planned Parenthood: "It is a fact across the country, and certainly in IN, that a disproportionate number of women seeking abortions are low-income".
In her ruling, Pratt struck down other features of the ultrasound legislation, including a ban on abortions due to fetal genetic abnormalities and a requirement that abortion providers bury or cremate aborted fetuses, provisions Pratt first halted in June. Attorneys for the State of IN argued that the ultrasound and waiting period do not constitute an undue burden, and that the Supreme Court has previously decided not to overturn mandatory ultrasound laws.
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Pratt's ruling may set a precedent and change the way courts approach extreme abortion laws. Dollar for dollar. Just one more reason no one should be forced by their own government to fund organizations - like Planned Parenthood - that undermine their sincerely held moral beliefs.
The women's health organization argues that Indiana's abortion restriction puts an undue burden on women and serves no objective other than to block their right to an abortion, and is therefore unconstitutional. Previously, it was possible for women to have the ultrasound and the abortion procedure on the same day.
Planned Parenthood said in its lawsuit that under the state's earlier measure the group performed ultrasounds on women immediately prior to their abortions.
Locals visiting the local Planned Parenthood location have been met with locked doors and a full answering machine leaving more questions than answers.
"I would prefer that the Legislature figure out that it's not their job to practice medicine, and that we would in fact get politicians out of our doctors' offices", said Betty Cockrum, the CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of in and Kentucky, according to the Associated Press.
American Civil Liberties Union of IN legal director Ken Falk says IN has 30 days to appeal the ruling. Attorneys for the state of IN have not yet said if they will appeal the ruling.