The trial begins in an amended lawsuit challenging Indiana’s near-total abortion ban

A group of abortion care providers is suing the state in a challenge to its near-total abortion ban. A three-day trial began Wednesday in Monroe County.

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky; All options; and an Indianapolis-based OB-GYN filed the amended lawsuit. The providers said in a statement that the lawsuit aims to “broaden and clarify” legal abortions under the near-total ban.

The ban only allows abortion if the health or life of the pregnant person is in danger; if there is a fatal fetal abnormality up to 20 weeks after fertilization; and in cases of rape or incest, but only up to 10 weeks.

According to the 2023 Indiana Supreme Court ruling, the ban did not violate the state’s constitution. But the court left the door open to challenges over the specifics of the near-total ban.

This amended lawsuit does just that: it challenges the ban on the limited exceptions for risks to the serious health or life of the pregnant person and the ban on abortion care outside of hospitals and surgical centers.

Court documents filed by the providers show that more than 8,400 abortions were performed in Indiana in 2021. More than 98 percent were performed in abortion clinics – the rest took place in hospitals.

It also said the near-total ban on abortion clinics makes it harder to get legal care in Indiana. Court documents state: “Based on information and belief, no hospital outside of Indianapolis currently provides abortion care.” Many pregnant people in Indiana who have legal access to abortion care would have to seek it outside the state.

The lawsuit also said the exceptions to the near-total ban for serious health or life risks are “unconstitutionally limited.”

“(The near-total ban’s confusing definition of serious health risks) and the threat of fines and criminal prosecution are preventing Indiana physicians from performing the abortions necessary to protect the lives and health of their patients,” court filings said. documents.

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Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon is overseeing the trial. She ruled in the preliminary injunction in September 2022, halting the near-total ban for nearly a year.

Hanlon had said in that decision that the law’s ban on clinics that perform abortions — limiting the procedure only to hospitals and certain surgical centers — will limit availability, increase costs and is “unlikely to impact the safety of Hoosier women and girls will increase.”

Lauren is our digital editor. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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