Indiana’s newest anti-abortion legislation is facing a legal challenge in federal court, less than a day after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure into law.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit Thursday challenging House Enrolled Act 1211, which bans a form of a second trimester abortion called a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure. Similar laws passed in eight other states, including Kentucky, are also being challenged as unconstitutional.
All other anti-abortion legislation passed in the Indiana General Assembly since 2013 have been blocked in U.S. District Court. Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana, said he and his team were disappointed, but not surprised lawmakers passed another abortion ban. He said the state should know what is unconstitutional.
“It becomes more of an annual ritual,” Falk said about filing the lawsuits challenging abortion laws. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two Indiana physicians, seeks an injunction to block the law from going into effect on July 1.
HEA 1211 will ban all D&E procedures performed on a live fetus. This is the most common form of second trimester abortions, but it remains rare. The procedure made up 0.35 percent of the 7,778 abortions performed in Indiana during 2017, according to the state Department of Health.
During the initial committee hearings, a number of physicians testified saying the procedure is the safest method of performing an abortion during the second trimester stage of the pregnancy, and most alternatives can be more dangerous.
“It’s outrageous that the state of Indiana is telling women not only can you not use this procedure, but by the way you can use this other procedure that could be potentially extremely dangerous,” Falk said. “I don’t think men would tolerate that kind of intrusion.”
Jane Henegar, executive director of ACLU of Indiana, said lawmakers used misinformation, such as saying the fetus feels pain during D&E, to guide the passage of legislation. She said there is no medical evidence that shows fetal pain is an issue during this stage of the pregnancy.
“Even with the way this procedure is described in the legislation shows clear intention of inflaming people’s views,” Henegar said.
The language in HEA 1211 describes the surgery as a “dismemberment abortion,” which is defined as when a fetus is extracted from a woman “one piece at a time.”
Holcomb and author of the bill Rep. Peggy Mayfield, R-Martinsville, declined to comment on pending litigation.
Falk said the ACLU and the state will discuss scheduling a for court date within the next week.
“We’re dealing with real lives here that are being affected and real women whose rights are being severely burdened,” Falk said. “It’s a continued disappointment that’s not being considered.”