Indiana Supreme Court deems new abortion law constitutional, vacates injunction blocking law

July 1, 2023
Ben Marquis

In the wake of the Supreme Court's 2022 Dobbs decision on abortion rights, many states, including Indiana, took advantage of the opportunity to craft their own particular regulations to govern abortion procedures.

Indiana's new abortion law had been challenged as unconstitutional and blocked with an injunction, but the state Supreme Court just declared that the law is constitutional and vacated that injunction, which allows the law to now be enforced, the Daily Caller reported.

Indiana's new abortion ban challenged

In 2022, the Indiana state legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, Senate Bill 1, which generally prohibits all abortions unless they fall under one of three particular exceptions -- to protect the life and health of the mother; in cases of "lethal fetal anomaly;" or in cases of incest or rape.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers immediately filed suit with several claims of the law being unconstitutional, only one of which passed initial muster with the trial court, which proceeded to impose a preliminary injunction to block the law's enforcement pending completion of the litigation.

Rather than wait for that final judgment with the preliminary injunction in place, the state then appealed the matter to Indiana's Supreme Court, and oral arguments in the case were heard in January.

Abortion ban deemed constitutional, injunction vacated

In a 4-1 majority led by Justice Derek Molter, it was determined that while Article 1, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution "protects a woman’s right to an abortion that is necessary to protect her life or to protect her from a serious health risk," the General Assembly nonetheless "otherwise retains broad legislative discretion for determining whether and the extent to which to prohibit abortions."

As such, "the record does not support the preliminary injunction."

Molter further noted that the plaintiffs had launched a "facial" challenge against the entirety of Senate Bill 1 rather than a more narrowly focused "as applied" challenge against specific provisions, which ultimately resulted in the demise of that challenge.

"The providers brought a 'facial' challenge to the entire law, so they had to show a reasonable likelihood of success in proving there are no circumstances in which any part of Senate Bill 1 could ever be enforced consistent with Article 1, Section 1," the justice wrote. "Because there are such circumstances, the providers cannot show a reasonable likelihood of success on their facial challenge. We therefore vacate the preliminary injunction."

That said, Molter also observed that a separate challenge to the law by the plaintiffs that was not addressed in this particular appeal -- that a hospital requirement violated Article 1, Section 23’s Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause and discriminated against abortion providers -- remained pending, and the justice duly noted, "We do not prejudge those questions" that have yet to be fully argued.

Dueling statements in reaction to ruling

In response to the high court's ruling, Republican Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement, "The Indiana Supreme Court has just upheld the abortion laws passed by the Indiana General Assembly. We celebrate this day -- one long in coming, but morally justified. Thank you to all the warriors who have fought for this day that upholds LIFE."

According to the Indiana Capital Chronicle, the plaintiffs now have 30 days to request a rehearing -- though rehearings are rarely granted -- which means that the general ban on abortions won't go back into effect until at least August 1.

In a joint statement, the plaintiffs lamented, "Now, patients will be forced either to flee the state to access abortion if they have the means, seek abortion outside of the health care system, or carry pregnancies against their will with profound medical risk and life-altering consequences."

"Despite this setback, we’ll keep fighting to restore reproductive rights in Indiana and to help Hoosiers get access to the services they need. Today’s decision is not the end of our fight for equitable, compassionate care in Indiana, or the patients in surrounding states who rely on Indiana for access to abortion," the statement added.

Latest News

© 2023 - Patriot News Alerts