Planned Parenthood Sues Indiana: Law Banning Abortion Based on Disability Diagnosis ‘Unconstitutional’

Lauretta Brown | April 7, 2016 | 12:57pm EDT
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(AP Photo)

( – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) to stop a new Indiana law, signed in March, that bans abortion if the sole reason for the abortion is the unborn child’s “race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis of a statutorily defined ‘disability’ or ‘potential diagnosis’ of a ‘disability.’”

The suit alleges that the law’s “prohibition on abortions solely because of one of the reasons set out in Indiana Code § 16-34-4 (effective July 1, 2016) creates an undue burden on the right to obtain an abortion in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Planned Parenthood also says the law is unconstitutional to the extent that it “requires as part of the ‘informed consent’ process that women seeking abortions be informed that they are unable to obtain an abortion if their sole reason for doing so is because of the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having a disability.”

The suit even acknowledges that “PPINK is aware that some of its patients seek abortions for a reason banned by the Enrolled Act. PPINK has performed abortions for patients who have been referred to PPINK solely because genetic anomalies or potential genetic anomalies had been detected in the fetus and PPINK anticipates performing such abortions in the future.”

The reasons for abortion that are banned by the new law in addition to the race or sex of the unborn child include a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of Down Syndrome and other disabilities such as Dwarfism, Albinism, and “any disease, defect, or disorder that is genetically inherited.”

The lawsuit states that PPINK “on its own behalf and on behalf of its employees…strongly object to having to participate in informing women that Indiana law prohibits an abortion solely because of the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having a disability as they believe that they are being forced to inform patients of something that is clearly unconstitutional.”

The ACLU is asking the court to declare the law unconstitutional and issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect July 1st.

"The ACLU stands firmly against discrimination in all forms, but that isn't what this law is about," Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director, said in a
statement Thursday.

"Unnecessary restrictions, like those recently signed into law, demean women and threaten the quality of their health care. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to work to ensure that every woman can make the best decision for herself and her family about whether and when to continue a pregnancy without undue political interference," she added.

The listed defendants - The Indiana State Department of Health, the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana, and the prosecutors in Marion, Lake, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties - are those responsible for enforcing the law’s requirements and issuing disciplinary action when the law is violated.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
said the new law “will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child's sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.”

“Some of my most precious moments as governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome,” he said in a statement after signing the law. “These Hoosiers never fail to inspire me with their compassion and these special children never fail to move me with their love and joy.”

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