Advocates on Monday hailed a US judge’s ruling permanently blocking Indiana abortion limits considered among the nation’s most restrictive, while the state said it would appeal the decision.
Then-governor Mike Pence approved the restrictions last year, before becoming Donald Trump’s vice president. The law prohibited abortions sought for certain reasons, such as a diagnosed disability in the fetus.
Abortion advocates sued and federal Judge Tanya Pratt issued a preliminary injunction last summer, preventing the law from taking effect.
She issued a permanent injunction Friday, citing US Supreme Court rulings and “well-established law that precludes a state from prohibiting a woman from electing to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability.”
Indiana’s top law enforcement official planned to appeal the ruling, while abortion advocates celebrated their victory.
“Unnecessary restrictions such as these demean women and threaten the quality of their health care,” said Jane Henegar, head of the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
But the state’s Attorney General Curtis Hill said the law aimed to prevent a “science fiction” scenario in which abortions were “based solely on race, sex or disability such as Down syndrome.”
“This state has a compelling interest in protecting the dignity of the unborn and in ensuring they are not selected for termination simply because they lack preferred physical characteristics,” Hill said.
In recent years, a number of US state legislatures under conservative Republican rule have tried to tighten abortion access with hundreds of new laws, according to the pro-abortion research group Guttmacher Institute.
A judge in Kentucky recently heard arguments over the fate of that state’s only abortion outpatient clinic, in what could be a pivotal case.