Researchers Join Fray Over Abortion Limits

     INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – Indiana’s new abortion restrictions will hamper stem cell research into neurological disorders, Indiana University claims in a federal complaint.
     Filing suit Wednesday in the Southern District of Indiana, IU says the law slated to take effect July 1 wrongly criminalizes the transferring of any and all fetal tissue, which would severely hamper medical research.
     With its overly broad wording, Indiana’s abortion law could be interpreted to criminalize even the transferring of fetal tissue from IU’s research center to another facility, making such transportation a felony, and jeopardizing millions of dollars in University research.
     IU says the effects of the law would be “dramatic” and “catastrophic.” In addition to slowing researchers’ work with fetal tissue, the law “could delay an important breakthrough in treatments and cures to patients with a variety of debilitating neurological disorders,” the complaint states.
     IU hopes to have a judge block the law from taking effect and then strike it down as unconstitutional.
     “By challenging portions of Indiana HEA 1337, Indiana University is taking an extremely rare stance, and one the university would prefer not to take,” IU spokeswoman Margie Smith-Simmons said in a statement. “But the university felt compelled to do this in an effort to protects its researchers from criminal prosecution, to protect the research enterprise as a whole and to protect the research that has the potential to save thousands of lives, if not more.”
     IU emphasizes that its researchers do not use tissue from a fetus that was ever viable. The school gets its fetal tissue from the Birth Defects Research Laboratory at the University of Washington, which only uses fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions and miscarriages.
     Alongside IU as plaintiffs are the school’s research vice president Fred Cate, geneticist Bruce Lamb and psychiatrist Debomoy Lahiri.
     Lahiri specifically uses the fetal tissue to derive mixed-cell cultures that form the basis of his Alzheimer’s research.
     IU filed its suit a day after a federal judge blocked the school from intervening in the lawsuit that Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky had filed over the law.
     Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller opposed IU’s attempt to join the bill.
     “These two separate disputes do not sufficiently overlap to justify litigating them together,” Zoeller said in a statement.
     Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit claims that the abortion law’s numerous restrictions would unduly restrict a woman’s right to secure an abortion.
     Enrolled Act 1337 bars a woman from obtaining an abortion if the sole reason of the procedure is because of the fetus’ color, national origin, ancestry, sex or diagnosis of disability, such as Down syndrome.
     The law also requires abortion doctors to have written admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or at least an agreement with a physician with those privileges.
     The Republican-backed bill was signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in March, who lauded the bill as “an important step in protecting the unborn.”
     Scott Chinn, of the law firm Faegre, Baker, Daniels, represents IU.

%d bloggers like this: