A federal judge dealt a blow to the pro-life cause in Indiana on Tuesday, striking down several of the state’s laws aimed at protecting preborn children. In a sweeping ruling, Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled that the state could not enforce a number of its previous abortion restrictions, including:
- A restriction that prevented women from receiving chemical abortion pills via telemedicine
- A requirement that women must have an in-person visit with a physician prior to a chemical abortion
- A requirement that second-trimester surgical abortions occur in hospitals or surgical centers
- A requirement that the woman must be informed that her preborn child can feel pain at 20 weeks
- A requirement that women are informed that life begins at fertilization
- Several requirements that were in place for abortion facilities
Despite the number of laws she overturned, Barker did uphold several others, including the requirement that an ultrasound takes place before an abortion, abortion reporting laws, and parental consent laws. According to National Review, much of the judge’s decision was based on the testimony of abortionist Daniel Grossman, the head of pro-abortion group ANSIRH and a former NARAL Pro-Choice America board member:
Citing prominent abortionist and abortion advocate Dr. Daniel Grossman, as well as abortion-advocacy group the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Judge Barker asserted that prescribing abortion pills via telemedicine is safe and would increase access to abortion for women who do not live near an abortion clinic. Barker again cited these sources, in addition to Planned Parenthood and other abortion-clinic officials, to establish that in-person examination is not necessary before determining whether to prescribe abortion pills and that such regulations impose a unique burden on low-income women.
The judge also blocked Indiana’s requirement that doctors inform women that human life begins at fertilization, once again citing Grossman, who called this statement not “truthful.”
Indiana saw a majority of abortions committed via abortion pill in 2020, and Tuesday’s ruling, which enables women to get abortion pills via video chat, will likely cause that number to increase.
“The State’s attempt to explain its basis for excluding the far-reaching benefits of telemedicine from this category of patients is feeble at best, especially given the widespread use of telemedicine throughout Indiana as well as the overall safety of medication abortions,” Barker wrote in her ruling.
What Barker called “medication abortion” is often known as the abortion pill, or chemical abortion. While she referred to its “overall safety,” studies have shown that complications from using the abortion pill are widely underreported, and a study has shown that it is four times riskier than surgical abortion.
Indiana Right to Life quickly denounced the ruling. “This is a horrific ruling that will directly lead to a massive expansion of chemical and late-term abortions in Indiana,” President Mike Fichter said in a statement. “The sweeping blockage of these common-sense laws jeopardizes the health and safety of women, leaves women in the dark on issues of fetal pain and the development of human life.”
The Hill reports that Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita expects that the state will appeal Barker’s ruling. “We will continue to fight to defend Indiana’s commonsense abortion laws and to build a culture of life in Indiana,” he said.
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