Society

Planned Parenthood Claims Victory After Abortion Ruling

| by Robert Fowler
A judge's gavelA judge's gavel

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on an Indiana bill that would have made it more difficult for minors to obtain an abortion without parental consent.

Planned Parenthood has praised the court's decision as a victory for abortion rights in the state, while anti-abortion groups assert that the decision infringes on parental rights.

Under current law, females in the state under the age of 18 could only acquire an abortion procedure if they obtained consent from their parents or petition a court to waive any consent requirements. On April 24, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb of Indiana signed the Senate Enrolled Act 404 into law, which would have allowed a judge hearing the case to decide whether to notify parents that their daughter was attempting to waive their consent, USA Today reports.

The bill also forbid anyone other than a minor's immediate family from providing consent to an abortion, and prohibited Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky from providing minors with information of clinics in outside states that would not require parental consent.

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Holcomb said the legislation would address "a parental rights issue and responsibility and common sense."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana swiftly mounted a lawsuit against the legislation on behalf of PPINK. The lawsuit asserted that the bill would infringe upon the constitutional right to abortion access.

On June 29, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker blocked key provisions of the bill, ruling that it would have undermined the women's rights more than it would have upheld parental rights, USA Today reports.

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"For this reason, the mature minor as the individual who bears the full consequences of the ultimate decision is entitled to an opportunity to proceed without state-mandated interference from her parents," Barker wrote in her 51-page opinion. "Because [Senate Enrolled Act] 404 offers no such opportunity, it places an unjustifiable burden on mature minors in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Barker also ruled that Indiana had not "presented evidence that prohibiting the mere dissemination of accurate facts about abortion services that are lawfully available to minors outside of Indiana will correspondingly promote family integrity or facilitate family communication."

The law was set to go into effect on July 1.

PPINK president Betty Cockrum praised the ruling as a victory for "young women here in Indiana who are already dealing with an incredibly difficult situation," according to the Associated Press.

The ruling marked the last victory in Cockrum's career. Serving as the PPINK president since 2002, Cockrum was set to retire on June 30, Indy Star reports.

On June 29, Cockrum reflected during an interview that she felt abortion rights nationwide had been set back during her tenure.

"You couldn't have told me 15 years ago how different it is today," Cockrum told the Indy Star. "Everything we fought for in the '60s, so much of that, it's already eroded and it's under attack."

Meanwhile, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill blasted Barker's ruling, AP reports.

In an official statement, Curtis asserted that the preliminary injunction was "an attempt to give courts rather than parents the legal guardianship of children."

Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter said he and Indiana residents were "tired of seeing activist judges legislate abortion from the bench."

Sources: AP via Dubois Count Herald, Indy Star (2), USA Today / Photo Credit: Blogtrepeneur/Flickr (howtostartablogonline.net), Paul Sableman/Flickr, hattiesburgmemory/Flickr

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