(Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette, Indiana will be able to continue its practice of chemically-induced abortions after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on a new state law that would have imposed tighter restrictions on the clinic.
U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled in Indianapolis on Wednesday that because the new law, which was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, has different requirements for the Planned Parenthood in Lafayette than other doctors' practices, it most likely violates the constitution's guarantee to equal protection. The law would have required the abortion clinic in Lafayette to meet surgical facility standards, including having a recovery and a waiting room, for its administering of drugs that induce non-surgical, chemical abortions. The Lafayette clinic is the only one in the state that distributes the chemical abortion-inducing medication.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the group that defended the Planned Parenthood clinic in the law's legal challenge, argued that other licensed doctors with private practices in the state are also able to prescribe the abortion-inducing medication, yet they were not required to abide by the new law.
"The state has not presented a rational basis for this distinction," Magnus-Stinson wrote in her opinion as to the reason the new law exempts private doctors' offices.
The state's Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who is defending the law, said in a statement Wednesday that due to the judge's "narrow ruling," his office will need time to consult before deciding what their next move will be. Zoeller can either appeal the judge's injunction to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, or he could drop his defense of the law.
"Because of the narrow ruling, we will consult with our clients and decide how next to proceed in the case," Zoeller said in the statement, as reported by the Indianapolis Star. The attorney general argued during the case that the medical risks associated with a chemical abortion warrant the new law's surgical facility requirements. "This new law reflects the policy judgment of Indiana legislators elected by our citizens," Zoeller said in court.
Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter told the local WBAA radio station that although the preliminary injunction is a setback, he believes ultimately the law will prevail.
"Today's court action means that Planned Parenthood will be allowed to continue its abortion operations in Lafayette without meeting a single physical building requirement," he said. "Planned Parenthood simply does not want to cut into its profit margin by doing the renovations required by Indiana law."
Attorney General Zoeller has 30 days to decide on his next move.