Obama-appointed federal judge overturns Indiana abortion safety law

The law requiring medical abortion facilities to adopt the same standards as surgical facilities was 'without a rational basis,' says the judge.
Thu Dec 4, 2014 - 4:33 pm EST
Mike Pence
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Mark Taylor/Flickr

A federal judge nominated by President Obama has overturned Indiana's 2013 law requiring medication abortion clinics to have the same standards as surgical facilities.

In her decision, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK), which opposed the pro-life regulations. According to Magnus-Stinson, the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, in part because the law treats a medication abortion facility run by PPINK differently than other medical offices, specifically those defined as "physician's offices." Magnus-Stinson agreed with PPINK's claim that the law is "without a rational basis" for treating the non-surgical PPINK facility differently than a physician's office.

PPIK argued that upgrading to surgical facility standards were unnecessary because no surgeries are done on-site. According to court documents, PPINK argued that "because no surgical procedures are performed there, the clinic does not have scrub facilities, a recovery room or area with a recovery cart or lounge chair, or an emergency call system. PPINK has not provided evidence of the cost of compliance, but it notes that any monies spent would otherwise be used for patient care."

Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter said in a public statement that while the decision "favoring Planned Parenthood is disappointing," it was "not surprising."

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"It's not surprising that a judge appointed by the most pro-abortion president in history, Barack Obama, would rule in Planned Parenthood's favor," said Fichter. "The fact that Planned Parenthood even disputed this common sense law shows the organization's willingness to put its bottom line above women's health and safety. The law is designed to ensure patients experiencing serious complications following a chemical abortion can be cared for properly."

The news is not all bad, according to Fichter. "The silver lining of this ruling is that it shows legislators how the law could be simply reworded in the next legislative session to ensure patient safety is truly met."

The Indiana law was stayed by Magnus-Stinson in 2013. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has yet to say whether he will appeal this week's decision.

  abortion, indiana, obama, planned parenthood

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