Signed by then Governor Pence in March of 2016, House Enrolled Act 1337 (HEA 1337) provided several conditions that would prevent legal abortion in the state. For example, the legislation prohibits “a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because of: the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.”
7th Circuit Court Judge William J. Bauer filed his opinion on Thursday and stated the reasons the court ruled HEA 1337 unconstitutional.
“The non-discrimination provisions clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent holding that a woman may terminate her pregnancy prior to viability, and that the State may not prohibit a woman from exercising that right for any reason,” Bauer wrote, representing the three-judge panel that heard this case.
Shortly after the bill was signed in 2016, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK), represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed suit against it in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The complaint they filed sought an injunction based on HEA 1337’s non-discrimination provisions and provisions for disposing of an unborn baby after abortion.
The case moved from the District Court to the 7th Circuit Court, where the unconstitutional ruling was given. However, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has supported HEA 1337 throughout this legal battle, and many are calling on him to appeal the 7th Circuit Court’s decision, sending this case to the Supreme Court.
“By declaring unconstitutional a state law that would bar abortions based solely on race, sex or disability such as Down syndrome, a federal judge has cleared the path for genetic discrimination that once seemed like science fiction,” Hill said in a statement to The Indianapolis Star last September. “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.”
Indiana Right to Life is pushing for this case to continue on to the Supreme Court. Vice President of Public Affairs Sue Swayze Liebel called the pro-life fight “the civil rights battle of our time,” stating:
Previous Supreme Court decisions that give states authority to regulate abortion give us great hope that the justices would side with Indiana’s right to recognize civil rights protections for children in the womb.
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