The ACLU responds: Pence, HEA 1337 and Hoosier women 

The ACLU claims HEA 1337 is unconstitutional

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This is the second part of NUVO's ongoing coverage of HEA 1337.

HEA 1337 is law in Indiana effective July 1. The wide-sweeping bill has been called the strictest abortion law in the nation.

The bill outlaws abortion entirely for a variety of reasons, adds additional barriers to access, and requires each aborted or miscarried fetus be buried or cremated.


RELATED: WHAT DOES HEA 1337 ACTUALLY DO?

Our editorial stance is that HEA 1337 does not protect the interests of pro-choice or anti-choice women. Simply put, HEA 1337 makes Indiana the most hostile state for women’s rights in the nation.

We examined the impact of HEA 1337 on Hoosier women from a variety of angles. Over the next few days, we'll examine the impact of the new law and publish women's stories of abortion and miscarriage.

Injunction from the ACLU: 

One of the first questions that comes to mind when considering this new legislation: Is it constitutional? After all, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973 legalized a woman’s right to have an abortion. The balance of the decision allow states to determine a point in gestation when a fetus is considered viable outside of the womb to place a time limit on when abortions could be performed as a woman’s legal right. In Indiana, that cut-off is 20 weeks (which has been dropped over time).

But that timeline is obliterated in HEA 1337 by the ban on abortions based on a woman’s intent. If a woman wants to terminate her pregnancy because of the race, gender, ancestry, diagnosis or potential diagnosis of a disability in the fetus, an abortion provider is banned from performing the procedure. And according to the ACLU of Indiana, that’s not right.

“Obviously one of the first issues that jumps out is that Indiana has now become one of the very very small minority of states to criminalize abortion no matter when the abortion occurs based on the reasons that a woman wants to have the procedure done,” says Gavin Rose, an attorney with the ACLU of Indiana. “I think there is very little doubt that that is unconstitutional under prevailing authority.”

Rose says the ACLU of Indiana is researching all aspects of the bill and is looking at issues that could be problematic. But he says the prohibition of abortion at any gestational age jumps off the page as a violation of a woman’s constitutional right.

“When there is a constitutional violation I hate to say that one is any worse than another but I think that’s fairly egregious what they have done there,” says Rose. “It’s very easy to imagine the woman that wants to get an abortion because she does not feel that she can handle financially or otherwise raising a child with a serious disability or something like that. This state has no role to play in the first trimester and I think the Supreme Court has been very clear about that.”

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We collected personal stories from women who chose abortion or experienced miscarriage and asked them how HEA 1337 would have impacted their experience. All stories with names attached are published with explicit permission. We want to thank the women who submitted their stories.  In the next few days, we'll publish those stories. If you'd like, you can submit your own at awakeforwomensrights.tumblr.com or email it to NUVO's editors at womensrights@nuvo.net. 

This is Carol Bertsch's story. 

When I was 5, I was molested by a male family member. As a result I had this warped sense of myself. I believed the best way to get love and acceptance was with my body. I was a very promiscuous girl. At the age of 14 (1980) I became pregnant by a 19-year-old young man. I remember going to a free clinic and watching a horrible video about abortion while I waited for the result of my pregnancy test. I was pregnant. I ran away with the young man and after some long drama I told my parents. My family took me to Planned Parenthood. The nurses and doctors of Planned Parenthood treated me with respect and without judgment. My family and I were given the when where and how of all the options. We decided as a family that the best choice for us was an abortion. What I remember about the abortion. The clinic was in the city. I was given a IV and then I went to sleep. I woke up in a reclining chair. I then went home with my family and went on with the rest of my life. We can only speculate how different my life would be if I had a baby at 14. I know this for sure: the choice my family and I made saved me. 
This story was contributed anonymously. 
I took my college roommate to have an abortion at Planned Parenthood in Indianapolis. I was surprised at how different the women there were. A very young woman that was obviously not mentally able to care for a child, a woman that probably thought she was beyond her childbearing years, then my friend that was studying to be an interior designer. A safe medical outpatient procedure was the best option for all of these women.

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Amber Stearns

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Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.

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