Planned Parenthood sues the state - again 

click to enlarge Lawmakers and anti-abortion activists joined Gov. Mike Pence on Wednesday as he signed a bill to put new regulations on clinics that administer abortion-inducing drugs. Photo provided by the governor’s office.
  • Lawmakers and anti-abortion activists joined Gov. Mike Pence on Wednesday as he signed a bill to put new regulations on clinics that administer abortion-inducing drugs. Photo provided by the governor’s office.


Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the suit said that regulating health facilities is unconstitutional and discriminatory. We regret the error.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said Thursday it is suing to stop the state from implementing a law that would puts new restrictions on drug-induced abortions.

The suit - filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana - targets Senate Enrolled Act 371, which requires facilities that offer non-surgical abortions to meet the same licensing standards as those facilities that do perform surgical abortions, including being equipped with separate procedure, recovery and scrub rooms.

"The additional restrictions in this law are in no way related to patient safety," Planned Parenthood President Betty Cockrum said in a statement.

"This law is clearly part of a coordinated national effort to end access to safe, legal abortion by trying to shut down Planned Parenthood health care centers, which also provide Pap tests, breast and testicular exams, birth control and STD testing and treatment," she said.

Non-surgical abortions involve the patient taking a pill with a physician present. The process has been used in the United States for more than 10 years.

Mike Fichter, president of Indiana Right to Life, said he is not surprised by Planned Parenthood's actions.

"It's clear that Planned Parenthood sees any amount of common sense oversight as too much oversight," Fichter said in a statement. "If Planned Parenthood truly cared about women's health, they would desire all abortion facilities, even facilities they do not operate, to meet a basic standard."

Gov. Mike Pence and the law's author, Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said they had not seen the lawsuit and did not to comment. Holdman said he didn't want to talk about specifics of the law but said "it's a good law."

Planned Parenthood officials said they believe the law is an attack against its Lafayette health center, which only offers non-surgical abortions.

"We have been providing health care for more than 40 years in Lafayette, and we will continue to do so" Cockrum said.

Doctors' offices are not required to meet the new standards, even though non-surgical abortions may be administered in a doctor's office.

Fichter said he doesn't think the suit will hold up in court.

"The state is well within its bounds on Senate Enrolled Act 371," he said. "If Planned Parenthood's lawsuit advances to any court, we believe any judge will recognize the authority of the state to put this law into effect."

Planned Parenthood will be represented by attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of American and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in U.S. District Court. The organizations plan to petition the court to issue an injunction that would prevent the new regulations from taking effect on Jan. 1.

Ken Falk, the ACLU's legal director, said the law's new requirements "are not reasonably related to any legitimate purpose."

"The laws irrationally and invidiously discriminate against Planned Parenthood and pose a significant and unnecessary burden that violates the constitution's guarantees of privacy, due process and equal protection," Falk said.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office will defend the Indiana State Department of Health, which is named in the lawsuit.

"In fulfilling our duty to defend statutes our legislature passes from legal challenges plaintiffs file, we are defending the authority of the people's elected representatives to make public policy decisions," Zoeller said in a statement. "When a challenge is brought against a statute it allows the judicial branch to fulfill its role in deciding the new law's constitutionality. We look forward to respectfully asserting the state's case."

Olivia Covington is a reporter forTheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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