(Indianapolis, IN) - Yesterday Indiana’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s abortion ban.
The law passed last summer bans abortions except in three circumstances: when the mother’s life is in danger, when there is a fatal medical issue with the fetus, and in cases of rape or incest. In September an Owen County judge granted an injunction on behalf of the Indiana ACLU and various abortion clinics. They argued that the ban violated the state’s constitution. The state’s high court disagreed.
The opening paragraph of the majority opinion, written by Justice Derek Molter, acknowledged the tedious balance of interests which the court had to consider:
“Abortion is an intractable issue because it brings two irreconcilable interests into conflict: a woman’s interest in ending a pregnancy and the State’s interest in protecting the life that abortion would end. Pregnancy is a highly personal experience that can alter a woman’s life and health in countless ways. For some, a pregnancy may be planned, supported, or generally free of any significant health complications. But for others, a pregnancy may be unplanned, lacking significant support, or induce significant health complications. Given the nuance inherent in each woman’s experience and private life, a woman’s desire to continue or terminate a pregnancy is, likewise, intensely personal. At the same time, our laws have long reflected that Hoosiers, through their elected representatives, may collectively conclude that legal protections inherent in personhood commence before birth, so the State’s broad authority to protect the public’s health, welfare, and safety extends to protecting prenatal life.”
The opinion went on to outline the history of the state’s legal stance on abortion over the years and weighed the facts of this particualr case. Ultimately, the court decided that authority to regulate abortions rests with elected officials. “[The] General Assembly,” four of the five justices agreed, “otherwise retains broad legislative discretion for determining whether and the extent to which to prohibit abortions.”
When the abortion ban can take full effect is still in question. Friday’s ruling cancels the injunction against the ban and returns the matter to the Owen County Circuit Court where the case originated. Also still pending is another lawsuit, which argues the ban violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That matter is scheduled for oral argument in the Indiana Court of Appeals in September.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, over 8,400 abortions were documented in Indiana in 2021. The closest abortion clinic in this area, Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend, closed earlier this month.