UPDATED: Judge puts Indiana abortion ban on hold; AG pledges to appeal

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An Indiana judge on Thursday blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue that it violates the state constitution.

Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban that took effect one week ago. The injunction was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said his office would appeal the decision.

The ban was approved by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature on Aug. 5 and signed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. That made Indiana the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

The judge wrote “there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.

The ban, which includes limited exceptions, replaced Indiana laws that generally prohibited abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and tightly restricted them after the 13th week.

In a statement after the ruling Indiana Right to Live said the order means “over 161 unborn children will continue to lose their lives to abortion every week this injunction stays in effect.”

“We are encouraged by the judge’s acknowledgement of the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies and are hopeful the blockage will be brief,” the statement said.

And Rokita issued a statement saying, “We plan to appeal and continue to make the case for life in Indiana. Our office remains determined to fight for the lives of the unborn, and this law provides a reasonable way to begin doing that.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing the abortion clinics, filed the lawsuit Aug. 31 and argued the ban would “prohibit the overwhelming majority of abortions in Indiana and, as such, will have a devastating and irreparable impact on the plaintiffs and, more importantly, their patients and clients.”

Ken Falk, the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, pointed to the state constitution’s declaration of rights including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in arguing before the judge on Monday that it included a right to privacy and to make decisions on whether to have children.

The state Attorney General’s Office had argued the court should uphold the ban, calling arguments against it based on a “novel, unwritten, historically unsupported right to abortion” in the state constitution.

“The constitutional text nowhere mentions abortion, and Indiana has prohibited or heavily regulated abortion by statute since 1835 — before, during, and after the time when the 1851 Indiana Constitution was drafted, debated, and ratified,” the office said in a court filing.

The Indiana abortion ban includes exceptions allowing abortions in cases of rape and incest, before 10 weeks post-fertilization; to protect the life and physical health of the mother; and if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly.

The new law also prohibited abortion clinics from providing any abortion care, leaving such services solely to hospitals or outpatient surgical centers owned by hospitals.

The lawsuit was filed in southern Indiana’s Monroe County, which includes the liberal-leaning city of Bloomington and Indiana University’s main campus, but two elected Democratic judges from that county declined to handle the case without stating any reasons.

Hanlon, a Republican from neighboring Owen County, accepted appointment as special judge. Hanlon, who was first elected as a judge in 2014, was among three finalists that the state Judicial Nominating Commission selected in July for for appointment to the state appeals court, but the governor last week named a different judge to the position.

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51 thoughts on “UPDATED: Judge puts Indiana abortion ban on hold; AG pledges to appeal

    1. So CH when does life begin? When they leave your basement and pay there own cell and internet bill!

    2. Steve, people like C H use terms like “blastocyst” in an attempt to but a semantic shroud over the fact that, no matter what life stage, it’s still a human being.

      It’s almost like if we started calling people in advanced old age “gerries” (instead of geriatrics) as a pejorative and, due to the fact that their high healthcare needs are a drain on public finances, started encouraging euthanasia for the poor and indigent gerries.

      Hmm, I’d better stop: don’t want to give them any ideas. Oh wait!!! Too late. That’s TOTALLY what they’re already doing in Canada. Isn’t “medical suicide” like the #5 cause of death?

      BTW, I do NOT support the extreme rigidity of Indiana’s anti-abortion bill. But I know that, to make persuasive arguments, the “party of science” should find other methods, since scientific standards for the definition life would overwhelmingly concur that it begins at conception.

  1. Pro-death proponents must be “re-educated” that the time to decide whether or not you want children is before conception, not after the fact. That is when the “choice” should be made.

    1. The issue is obviously not that simple, Mark and you are offering the kind of rhetoric that is not helpful but rather counterproductive.

    2. Yes, Steve. Tim is a hardline pro-abort who simply slows things down and tries to couch his views in more moderate speak.

      If he makes no real concessions to the pro-life side–and yes, conception is a choice 99% of the time–then he’s really only a wolf in sheep’s clothing. People should be clear about what their own positions are. I normally take the site of pro-lifers on this forum, but mostly because I am pro-choice and openly acknowledge that, in being so, I support legalized murder in select, monitored, and optimally RARE circumstances.

    1. BINGO, Paul A. Either we elect people to represent us or we don’t. If we don’t there is no use having the form of government we do. I’d give a dollar to know the political leanings of Judge Hanlon. Obviously, an obscene leftist hack, it would appear.

    2. I don’t believe the Republican dominated legislature is representing its constituents at all, but rather pandering to the small but vocal conservative base. If a poll was done in Indiana on the people’s views on abortion, like in Kansas, the result of the pole would be overwhelmingly in favor of legal, but regulated abortion. But the legislature is too chicken$#!% to put it to the ballot because they know they’d lose.
      Judge Hanlon was not legislating from the bench – no law was established or struck down. She was wisely putting a hold on enforcement of the law until it’s constitutionality can be established.

    3. Interesting thought did the citizens of the State of Indiana elect a Republican majority?

      Be careful you don’t want to be an insurrectionist!

    4. Indiana Republicans have a poll showing support for first trimester abortion. They conducted it after the Dobbs decision and buried the results when it didn’t give them the answers they wanted.

      And a reminder, Indiana Democrats proposed both 20 and 15 week abortion bans during the special session, so don’t listen to the scare masters that they’re after abortion on demand up until the moment of birth.

      Indiana Republicans won’t listen to voters until voters send them home.

    1. Eight old white men (and one old black one) made the Roe v Wade decision a half century go.

      The biggest factor influencing the growing influence of the pro-life movement has been the increasingly political involvement and power of women, who now are a majority of the electorate (thanks in no small part to the sky-high incarceration rate of men).

      And, since the fastest growing ethnic demographic over most of the last 50 years has been Hispanics/Latinos, the majority of whom are Catholic and lean heavily pro-life, not all of those politically involved women have been white.

      Gonna have to form better arguments, Marshall.

  2. Put it directly to the people on the ballot ( like Kansas). It’s much to important not to allow a direct answer through the people via a direct vote versus indirectly through the legislative process. And, yes, Mitch was right.

  3. Life, liberty (except for women of child-bearing age, whose bodies are the property of the collective) and the pursuit of happiness. All religions at their core advocate for women being property.

    1. Wow, 25 years as Christian and I never once thought of my wife as property. I knew I was doing a lot of things wrong , but no one ever pointed that one out, thank for the 411.

    2. It’s amazing how we have absolutely no decision regarding when we wish to engage in coitus, or what types of contraception we can use (none at all), or who our sexual partners are going to be….all of which by basic biology MUST precede the act of fertilizing an egg. All of those are the property of the collective too, amiright?

      God, with arguments like these, how could the pro-choice argument possibly be losing ground?

  4. still amazing to me at the glee at which the left believes that sucking the life out of a defenseless baby is even though the result most times of irresponsible actions. A return to personal responsibility is in order. If you choose to have unprotected sex there may be consequences. That’s the main issue when it is said that a woman should have autonomy over her body. If you want to do every dude then protect yourself or make sure your partner has or deal with the potential consequences.

    1. “Or make sure your partner has…” unbelievable. It is a woman’s responsibility to ensure her partner won’t impregnate her? Why can’t her partner be expected to ejaculate responsibly? I’m sorry for the women in Jeffery’s life – it seems he feels men (maybe him, himself?) need hand holding and help from women to carry out the most basic human functions.

    2. It’s amazing how we have absolutely no decision regarding when we wish to engage in coitus, or what types of contraception we can use (none at all), or who our sexual partners are going to be….all of which by basic biology MUST precede the act of fertilizing an egg. All of those are the property of the collective too, amiright?

      God, with arguments like these, how could the pro-choice argument possibly be losing ground?

    3. ^ ^ ^ My previous reply to this comment was misattributed–I accidentally posted reply at the wrong place. Sorry about that.

      Always hilarious seeing the comment thread from this site, in which males outnumber females about 3 to 1, and seeing all those men white-knighting for the women.

      Few things are more insufferable than the male feminist. I used to think they were good and decent guys, looking out for women, but there’s something very paternalistic about the notion that a man needs to step forward to help a woman fight her battles. It’s almost like the male feminist doesn’t think the women can fight it themselves. Probably explains why feminists and their male enablers tend to have very dysfunctional relationships.

  5. Im willing to bet that if it were up for a vote by the public, most of Indiana’s population would support reversing Indiana’s abortion law. This is beyond ridiculous how far the state is willing to go to force others moral, political and religious views of abortion on the entire population. As usual, that’s good ole Indiana for you. Geez Louise!

  6. It’s been shown time and time again in public opinion polling that abortion is a complex issue. Real people have multifaceted and conflicting views on it. For instance, it’s perfectly reasonable to oppose abortion and also oppose draconian mandates that result in forced births among those who don’t agree with you. That is, in fact, an ideologically conservative position – preserving an individual right, opposing a big government solution and rejecting mandate/regulation. Furthermore, when Uncle Carl rapes 14 year old Mary, impregnating her, even somewhere in a red state like Indiana, I can guarantee that Mary and her “pull the R lever” parents seeking out an abortion clinic as the best solution to terrible family trauma is a non-zero occurrence.

    Abortion isn’t a cleanly Democrat / GOP issue. Opposition to abortion was mainly a Catholic issue until the late 1970’s – (Catholics vote about 50/50). The 1971 Southern Baptist Convention even adopted a resolution including this language, “We call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” This resolution was reaffirmed in conferences in both 1974 and 1976. In fact, Jerry Falwell, a founder of the Moral Majority didn’t preach his first anti-abortion sermon until 1978, 5 years after Roe. It was after the 1978 midterms, that Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of the Moral Majority, recognized that the anti-abortion movement could be capitalized on to mobilize evangelicals (who vote more heavily Republican). So, while evangelicals like to claim moral high ground on the issue, it became their hobby horse out of political expediency.

    Republicans (who are vocally anti-abortion) insist that opposing abortion is standing in as advocacy for the unborn. Okay – but that’s not the only party in the equation. The mother at a minimum, maybe the father, maybe the mother’s family, maybe a doctor, maybe a social worker, maybe a clergy person. The point is that each of those also has an interest in the outcome, so protecting the unborn life isn’t the only issue at stake, rather the issue forces us to balance competing rights. Since the mother is a living, breathing human being at the time of conception, her right to choose clearly trumps the right of a few dividing cells. As the embryo grows and develops, logically its rights should grow at the expense of those of the mother. This balancing of competing rights is why both extremes get it wrong.

    Finally, to those who gin up the “abortion as birth control” and “personal responsibility” claims, please provide the data. Until you do, it’s exaggerated rhetoric and useless to the argument. One would think that the party who makes these arguments would also support such public policy initiatives as sex education in the school curriculum and state provided contraception, but one would be wrong.

    1. You articulated a very difficult subject very well and I agree with most of everything you said. I personally feel the government shouldn’t force anyone to do anything to their body that they aren’t comfortable with, or are we really property of the state?

    2. I missed a fourth pillar where the pro-choice preference actually aligns with conservative ideology – religious freedom. This is where the anti-abortion crowd may actually be the most intellectually inconsistent. As the Republican party has more and more adopted the same identity as the religious right, the argument that abortion is morally wrong has become more and more their mantra. Morality isn’t some rules-based set of prescriptive parameters – rather it is philosophical and personal to each of us and often tied to our faith (or lack thereof). Legislative restrictions that apply rules governing behavior that run antithetical to personal belief or religious dogma are railed against by conservatives as restrictive to their religious freedom (arguing for the right to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple or arguing that a vaccine requirement imposed by an employer violates a personal religious belief that vaccines should be avoided). Simultaneously, the same people are comfortable arguing that their preferred religious beliefs should be applied one size fits all to the entire populace.

      Remains to be seen whether yet another violation of professed GOP ideology will be violated – “state’s rights”, which has been used to give cover to the Dobbs decision.

    3. Tim, as he has in the past, uses considerable verbiage to pretend he is a moderate voice and is scrutinizing both sides of the issue.

      I’m hardly one to fault his length of words; I often tend to be wordy too.

      But let’s not pretend, amidst his scrutiny, that he’s anything other a militant pro-choicer. His third paragraph is pretty good, but the rest….? “State provided contraception” is the advocacy of a statist.

      Tim, the reason people are claiming “abortion as birth control” is not just because we see the “sex strike” (mostly obese) women raising the signs at pro-abortion rallies (I can’t call it pro-choice at that point), but because we have something like six states that are basically the most permissive abortion states in the entire WORLD. More permissive than anywhere in Europe, and only like 3-4 countries elsewhere have similarly lax laws. New Jersey, Vermont, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico (surprising), and Oregon (not surprising at all) have no time-limit restrictions. Water breaks? Can still abort.

      These states quietly passed these laws in the last 10-15 years. Only when Virginia attempted something similar did it finally get publicized. I had no idea about these 6 states until 2018. Why didn’t we learn? Because the legacy media doesn’t report it, while it covers every tiny incremental more stringent legislative act in the anti-choice states. When people learn of radical policies, they tend to glom around the most radical opposite extreme as part of a moral panic. But, since 95% of the media is just the PR wing of one party, people don’t often learn. It’s not that the media lies–well, they do, but not as much as they simply omit details that are politically inconvenient for the party they are protecting.

      So it’s not exaggerated rhetoric in the least. “Safe, legal and rare” is a moderate stance. Lately, Democrats have dropped “rare”. And GOP mayors in fairly large, moderate cities will often still be pro-choice. It’s the Dems who are trying to purge their party of any pro-life elements.

    4. Kevin, are you at least ideologically consistent and feel the same way about vaccines?

      I’m still pro-choice, but given how quickly most of my pro-choice allies dropped all interest in the idea that “the government shouldn’t force anyone to do anything to their body that they aren’t comfortable with” back in winter 2022, it’s no surprise that the pro-life crowd isn’t feeling as keen on concessions this time around. They weren’t given them by the left earlier this year.

    5. Lauren, you are incorrect about my views – not a pro choice militant at all. An astute reader should be able to determine that from my expression of support for the notion of competing rights between the mother and the fetus. In fact, despite the fact that Roe was flawed legally, both myself and probably the majority of the country would be perfectly happy with the limitations therein. I acknowledge that “abortion as birth control” is non-zero; I also believe it to be a minor part of the issue until someone can show credible data to the contrary.

      Your defense of radical restrictions as a reaction to radically liberal legislation is, in fact, a strawman. First, despite the fact that the states you cite have extremely liberal laws, elective abortions after the “water breaks” is exactly the type of exaggerated rhetoric I’m talking about. CDC data shows that about 1% of abortions occur after 21 weeks. So, 99% in the first 53% of term and 1% in the latter 47% of term. In addition to being very rare, when those occur, oftentimes it’s because of late suspicion of pregnancy, lack of information on how to access an abortion, transportation difficulties, lack of insurance coverage or inability to pay. We have made this overreactive mistake before, McCarthyism, Prohibition (moral panic).

      Some have claimed that late-term abortions (not a legal or medical term) are never necessary. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) disagrees. In 2019, ACOG released a statement that pregnant women may experience conditions such as “premature rupture of membranes and infection, preeclampsia, placental abruption, and placenta accreta” late in pregnancy that may endanger their lives. “Women in these circumstances may risk extensive blood loss, stroke, and septic shock that could lead to maternal death. Politicians must never require a doctor to wait for a medical condition to worsen and become life-threatening before being able to provide evidence-based care to their patients, including an abortion.”

      Worse, though, is pretending that there is some kind of defensible cause and effect relationship between what has happened in those left leaning states and the (in some cases, extreme) restrictions now being enacted in red states. That argument might hold if activists in our state were agitating for restrictions looser than Roe here, but I am unaware of any such movement with real prospects of success. With Dobbs kicking this decision back to the states, suggesting that uber restrictive laws are but a logical reaction to the media “deceiving us” by depriving us of knowledge of what is happening in New Jersey is just a red herring.

      Finally, I would just say that unadulterated defense of radically restrictive laws as pure upside and which does not acknowledge the significant costs and downsides they come with is disingenuous.