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Indiana Abortion Law Blocked by Federal Judge

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) — Planned Parenthood is likely to prevail on claims that a new Indiana law threatens women's right to get abortions, a federal judge ruled.

Meant to take effect today, House Enrolled Act No. 1337 makes it illegal for a woman to have an abortion, even in the first trimester of pregnancy, if the reason for the abortion stems from the race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or disability of the fetus.

The law, which also requires abortion providers to follow state-mandated burial and cremation requirements, was signed into law back in March by Gov. Mike Pence.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky and the American Civil Liberties Union quickly filed suit, calling it "clearly unconstitutional" to make clinic employees quiz women about their motivations.

Rounding out a week in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down unconstitutional abortion limits in Texas, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted the Indiana challengers an injunction Thursday.

The 31-page ruling says Indiana's new law "directly contravenes" the principle established in Roe v. Wade: that a state may not prohibit a woman from making the ultimate decision to have an abortion prior to fetal viability.

"The state is [attempting] to accomplish via HEA 1337 precisely what the Supreme Court has held is impermissible," Pratt wrote. "For this court to hold such a law constitutional would require it to recognize an exception where none have previously been recognized."

Pratt explained that, while the Supreme Court has consistently recognized that states have legitimate interests in protecting the life of a fetus that may become a child, it has balanced the states' interests with those of a woman seeking a pre-viability abortion and determined that the state's interest are not strong enough to lawfully prohibit such abortions.

"Yet," Pratt wrote, "HEA 1337 does just that."

Pratt emphasized that "the right to a pre-viability abortion is categorical," and "leaves no room for the state to examine the basis or bases upon which a woman makes her choice."

To affirm Indiana's position under HEA 1377 would undermine the "central holding" of Roe v. Wade — that a woman's right to choose a first-trimester abortion, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, is superior to the state's interest in protecting fetal life.

Pratt also blocked HEA 1337's requirement that abortion providers follow state-mandated burial and cremation requirements.

Because the law does not recognize the fetus as a person, there is no legitimate state interest in treating an aborted fetus the same as a deceased human, according to the ruling.

A spokeswoman for Pence said the governor was "disappointed" in the ruling but "remains steadfast in his support for the unborn, especially those with disabilities."

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