INDIANAPOLIS — Planned Parenthood on Thursday praised a federal judge’s ruling that blocks parts of a new Indiana law that would make it tougher for girls under age 18 to get an abortion without their parents’ knowledge.
The court ruling late Wednesday temporarily prevents three portions of the law from taking effect on July 1, including a provision that would require judges to decide whether a minor’s parents should be notified of her intention to seek an abortion. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who signed the law on April 25, has called the measure a “parental rights issue.”
The ruling marked a big win for “young women here in Indiana who are already dealing with an incredibly difficult situation,” Betty Cockrum, president of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said during a news conference Thursday. Cockrum, who retires Friday after 15 years as leader of the Planned Parenthood chapter, criticized lawmakers who approved the legislation, saying they “have no notion” of what pregnant girls seeking an abortion are going through.
Attorney General Curtis Hill, whose office defends the state’s laws in court and could appeal the ruling to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, is still reviewing Barker’s decision and hasn’t decided whether to appeal, said spokesman Corey Elliot.
Hill said Thursday in a statement that Barker’s order is “an attempt to give courts rather than parents the legal guardianship of children.”
Indiana Right to Life’s president, Mike Fichter, urged the state to keep defending the law, saying Indiana residents were “tired of seeing activist judges legislate abortion from the bench.”
The temporary injunction was approved by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, who was nominated to the federal court in Indianapolis by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed in May by the Planned Parenthood chapter and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which sought the injunction.
Along with blocking the provision concerning judges, Barker’s ruling also puts on hold a provision in the law that requires physicians to verify the “identity and relationship” between a minor seeking an abortion and her parent or guardians. The third element covered by the injunction would prevent anyone from aiding a minor who isn’t emancipated from her parents while seeking an abortion.
The injunction is the third that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have won in the past year against new abortion restrictions in Indiana.
Two lawsuits filed last year challenged a ban on abortions because of fetal genetic abnormalities and a mandate that forces women to undergo an ultrasound at least 18 hours before having an abortion.
A federal judge blocked both provisions, which were part of the same wide-ranging abortion law then-Gov. Mike Pence, who is now vice president, signed into law in March 2016.