As promised, U.S. District Court judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued her opinion in Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky et al. v. Commissioner, Indiana State Dept. of Health et al. Her opinion — House Enrolled Act 1337 is unconstitutional as a violation against due process and equal protection under the law.
PPINK challenged the law claiming the new restrictions on abortion imposed an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose because of the prohibition based on the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, diagnosis or potential diagnosis of a disability regardless of gestational age. The plaintiffs also claim due process and equal protection were also violated in the provision mandating the final disposition of fetal remains, and the First Amendment rights of providers were violated by requiring them to inform a woman of the law and all of its requirements prior to giving consent to continue with an abortion procedure.
In her opinion, Pratt stated that the anti-discrimination clause of HEA 1337 is a direct contradiction of Roe v. Wade, which says “a state may not prohibit a woman from making the ultimate decision to have an abortion prior to fetal viability.” Pratt stated that the information doctors would be required to tell their patients is unconstitutional because providers would be giving their patients false information.
“PPINK’s challenges to the fetal tissue disposition provisions present a much closer call and present difficult legal questions about which there are few clear answers,” wrote Pratt in her opinion. “In the end, however, the Court concludes that the State’s asserted interest in treating fetal remains with the dignity of human remains is not legitimate given that the law does not recognize a fetus as a person.”
Judge Pratt removed the individual county health commissioners as defendants in the case, leaving the Indiana State Health Commissioner as the only defendant in the case.
Immediately following the opinion, several Democratic lawmakers called for a repeal of the law. House Democratic Floor Leader Linda Lawson, (D-Hammond), said the law needed to be put in the trash, pointing to the hasty nature in which the law was passed at the end of the shortened legislative session. House and Senate Republicans issued no comment following the court opinion. Gov. Mike Pence’s office issued the following statement:
“While disappointed in today's ruling, Governor Pence remains steadfast in his support for the unborn, especially those with disabilities. The Governor will continue to stand for the sanctity of human life in all stages, for the compassionate and safe treatment of women faced with an enormously difficult decision, and for the rights of citizens to determine appropriate medical safety standards and procedures through their elected representatives.”
The Attorney General’s office confirmed in a press release that HEA would not take effect or be enforced in accordance with the preliminary injunction. The release also stated the state’s attorneys will review the ruling and confer with the clients of the case before deciding if an appeal will be filed with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.