Court Rulings Uphold Abortion Bans in Indiana, North Carolina

Court Rulings Uphold Abortion Bans in Indiana, North Carolina
A pro-life campaigner displays a plastic doll representing a 12-week-old fetus as she stands outside the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on April 7, 2016. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Abortion bans were upheld following court rulings on Friday that lifted an injunction against an abortion ban in Indiana and cleared the way for a 12-week abortion ban to take effect in North Carolina.

In Indiana, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s abortion ban doesn’t violate the state constitution, and lifted a preliminary injunction that had been blocking a near-total abortion ban.

Indiana was the first U.S. state to approve and pass a bill into law banning most abortions, following the overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in late June 2022. The legislation was first enacted in August 2022 and took effect in mid-September that year—but only for no more than a week.

A county judge on Sept. 22, 2022, issued a preliminary injunction against the law, after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana, which represented abortion clinic operators including Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit on Aug. 31. The county judge said the abortion ban likely violated the state constitution’s privacy protections, which she said are stronger than those found in the U.S. Constitution. The judge’s decision allowed abortions to continue in Indiana since then, until the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision Friday, which invalidates her ruling.

Indiana’s abortion law will eliminate licenses for all seven abortion clinics in the state, and bans abortions except in the case of incest or rape. It also allows abortions up to 20 weeks in circumstances where the procedure is deemed necessary to protect the life and physical health of the mother, or if the baby is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly.

The court’s decision does not put the ban immediately into effect. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, said in a statement Friday that “upon certification by the court, the law will go into effect as related litigation continues through the judicial process.”

State Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, praised the high court’s decision in a statement. “We celebrate this day—one long in coming, but morally justified. Thank you to all the warriors who have fought for this day that upholds LIFE.”

A second injunction remains in effect, however, due to a separate lawsuit also brought by the ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of Hoosier Jews for Choice. The plaintiffs argued that the abortion ban violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was adopted in 2015. The plaintiffs in this case were granted class-action status. The case is scheduled to be heard by the Indiana Court of Appeals in September.

It is unclear how the latest Supreme Court ruling affects abortion access. The law remains unenforceable for at least the specific plaintiffs in this second case, pending its outcome. However, the ACLU argues that the second injunction also applies to all Indiana residents who have sincere religious beliefs that they should be able to obtain an abortion.

12-Week Abortion Ban in North Carolina

Over in North Carolina, the state’s 12-week abortion ban is set to take effect on Saturday, July 1, after a federal judge cleared the way for the legislation. She only temporarily blocked one provision of the ban.

The lawsuit against the 12-week abortion ban was brought by Planned Parenthood, which challenged multiple provisions in the ban.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles blocked a requirement that said that until July 14, doctors must document that the woman is pregnant when prescribing or administering abortion drugs. She added that she expects the parties to agree to extend the restraining order to beyond July 14 to allow for more briefing.

North Carolina has banned most abortions after 20 weeks, although the new legislation brings it down to 12 weeks. The law also has exceptions through 20 weeks for cases of rape and incest, and through 24 weeks for “life-limiting” fetal anomalies. A medical emergency exception also remains in place.

The new legislation also requires that patients seeking abortion must have two in-person doctor visits at least 72 hours apart. Patients who opt for medication abortion have to have a total of three in-person visits.

Eagles wrote that the law’s other provisions that Planned Parenthood had challenged in its suit were addressed by last-minute updates made under the state legislature, and which were signed into law late June 29.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, had originally vetoed the 12-week abortion ban, but his veto was overridden by a Republican legislative supermajority. The governor said the last-minute amendment signed on June 29 “is important to clarify the rules and provide some certainty” after he criticized the original unamended legislation as being “so poorly written that it is causing real uncertainty for doctors and other health care providers.”

Cooper also said he would “continue fighting on all fronts” on Republicans’ push to restrict abortion.

Editor’s note: This article has been further edited for clarity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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