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Appeals Court upholds block on unconstitutional abortion restrictions 

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 upheld a preliminary injunction against a restrictive abortion law, SEA 404, that would have imposed undue burdens on minor’s personal medical decisions.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana challenged the law on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) and its patients. In 2017, a federal district court blocked the law from taking effect, concluding that it “places an unjustifiable burden on mature minors in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

SEA 404 included an unnecessary and dangerous add-on to Indiana’s existing parental consent law, which the court agreed would endanger young women in vulnerable circumstances. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a minor who is unable or unwilling to obtain parental consent for an abortion must be allowed to obtain an abortion if a judge determines that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision herself or that an abortion is in her best interest. Indiana has long had such a procedure.

SEA 404 would burden a minor’s ability to obtain an abortion by allowing parents to be notified, even in cases in which a judge has determined that a young woman is mature enough to make the decision herself. The evidence in the case demonstrated that the notice provision might lead to young women being harmed or harming themselves.

Ken Falk, Legal Director at the ACLU of Indiana, released the following statement:

“This decision affirms that the state must continue to provide a safe alternative for young women who – whatever their circumstances – are unable to talk to their parents about this difficult and personal decision. Legislators need to stop targeting women with invasive hurdles and start respecting the rights of all Hoosiers to make their own personal medical decisions. These heavy-handed restrictions would have burdened young women’s constitu- tional rights and put their health and safety at risk.”

Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana  and Kentucky, released the following statement:

“We are pleased to see the Seventh Circuit agrees with the lower court’s ruling that SEA 404 places an undue burden on young people seeking abortion care. At Planned Parenthood, we encourage teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their families, but not all young people are able to do so safely. All Hoosiers, regardless of age, should be able to access the full range of reproductive health care when they need it, including abortion care, and deserve to make personal medical decisions without the fear of politicians sharing or shaming their private decisions.”

The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, et al., Case 1:17-cv-01636-SEB-DML, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on May 18, 2017.

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